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Author Topic: EP188: 29 Union Leaders Can’t Be Wrong  (Read 12416 times)

Russell Nash

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on: February 27, 2009, 08:20:42 AM
EP188: 29 Union Leaders Can’t Be Wrong

By Genevieve Valentine.
Read by Chris Lester (of Metamor City).
First appeared in Strange Horizons, November 2007.

Guest Host: Jeffrey R. DeRego

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“This is normal,” the doctor says, and, “Give yourself time, it’s key,” and, “The hospital psychiatrist will be speaking to you about some support groups.”

“What about Marlene?”

“She’s speaking with one of our counselors,” the doctor says. “Full transplant is usually something of a shock to the loved one, at first.”

“How long until I can see her?”

“That’s up to her,” the doctor says. “Can you squeeze the orange for me?”

As long as he doesn’t look, it’s fine.


Rated R. Contains adult situations and violence.



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Zathras

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Reply #1 on: February 27, 2009, 11:32:39 AM
Great story.  I like the fact that we are left to guess whether or not Callahan said, "I love you".

Pretty good job on the intro and outro, Jef- um, Steve.  I could tell you weren't quite used to the FT yet, but it was a good job.



jrderego

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Reply #2 on: February 27, 2009, 12:55:50 PM
Great story.  I like the fact that we are left to guess whether or not Callahan said, "I love you".

Pretty good job on the intro and outro, Jef- um, Steve.  I could tell you weren't quite used to the FT yet, but it was a good job.

Edited to add -

"Thanks, the body feels a little loose in the middle. Weird... I hope these muscles like running because I sure do..."

Edit end...

Actually, that isn't exactly either of the intros I recorded... Dunno why but they sort of productioned-out the punchline by editing the front end "Hi, I'm your host...." from "Hi I'm your host, Steve Eley" as I recorded it in one version, with part of "Hi, I'm your host Steve Ele... wait a minute no I'm not." from another.

So there you go.

Edited to add...

Yes, I am such a tool that I completely missed the joke in your post about the FT... And I had to read the story a couple of times to come up with a good intro/outro.

Alas, live and learn.

:)

edit end...
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 03:46:02 PM by jrderego »

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Listener

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Reply #3 on: February 27, 2009, 03:09:17 PM
The concept of identity was well-addressed in this story. I felt Thomas's defeatist attitude (every FT ends up with another FT after a while) negatively reflects other support groups, such as AA, NA, etc., though it wasn't a story-killer.

I expected something much more SF to have happened to Steven when he died, not just that he threw himself in front of a bullet to save his partner. (And why, in the future, were they not wearing bulletproof vests?)

The title was misleading, and glossed over too much in the story.

The reading was fine. There was a soft quality to the reader's voice that I don't think worked so well in this story, but I managed to ignore it.

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Void Munashii

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Reply #4 on: February 27, 2009, 04:03:57 PM
  I liked the story, although I was left unfulfilled at the end (I just wanted more).

  If rich people can get the bodies they want ("If Janie wants a dick..."), they why couldn't the (apparently) famous Dr. Fire get a body? Surely his backers at least would be willing to spend the money necessary to keep his research going for the potential profits from its results, if for no other reason.

  One thing the story made me wonder is, what about the physical abilities you had in your old body? If you knew how to play the piano, would you be able to play it in your new body, or would you have to learn it all over again? It's mentioned that the body was that of a motorcycle rider, so would the main character now be able to ride a motorcycle even if he never had in his old body? Does he need to learn how to shoot all over again since the old owner of the body was not a cop?

  The main character inherited asthma and caffeine addiction with the body, did he get any good abilites too? Is he a better dancer now? Can he hold his liquor better? Is he better in bed? Can he type faster? What abilites that we have are in our brains and what abilities are in our bodies?

  Oh, and it's good to hear your voice again, "Steve".

  (edited to put the paragraphs in the order I thought I typed them in)
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 06:41:49 PM by Void Munashii »

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Zathras

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Reply #5 on: February 27, 2009, 05:00:41 PM
I would think any learned skills the previous body would just appear to be "natural talent" or a knack.  You probably would have good reflexes for riding a motorcycle, but that won't help you if you don't understand the controls.



izzardfan

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Reply #6 on: February 28, 2009, 01:47:46 AM
There's a difference between mental memory and muscle memory.

All in all, a great reading and a great story, and I, too, wanted to know more about what would happen after the end of the story.  This concept is deserving of a sequel (hint hint Ms. Valentine).

Jeffrey, some (hopefully constructive) criticism:  please slow down just a bit when speaking.  You're a wonderful writer but I get the feeling you were nervous as a speaker, and I felt like you were racing a bit through the text.  That said, everything else was great!



hoyajon

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Reply #7 on: February 28, 2009, 11:48:45 AM
I expected something like Marlene had conspired to kill him, and there had been some marital difficulties previously.  It doesn't make sense for a devoted wife to have difficulty accepting the same husband in a new body.  That part bothered me.

I wanted more of the "how", the science.  A paragraph on the technology would have been good.



deflective

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Reply #8 on: February 28, 2009, 08:56:26 PM
I like the fact that we are left to guess whether or not Callahan said, "I love you".

that wasn't the impression i got. she had delayed, inviting the chance to get herself shot, which may be suicidal tendency or an attempt to get a new body.

i liked jrderego introducing a 'union' story. some part of me wonders if the name Callahan was nod to Spider Robinson who has been know to write about changing bodies, lost memories and sexual consequences.



alllie

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Reply #9 on: February 28, 2009, 09:52:26 PM
I really liked the story and the narration. It was classic science fiction in that it showed how a new technology impacted human beings rather than just being about the technology itself. 
« Last Edit: February 28, 2009, 10:17:52 PM by alllie »



izzardfan

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Reply #10 on: February 28, 2009, 11:03:43 PM
It doesn't make sense for a devoted wife to have difficulty accepting the same husband in a new body.  That part bothered me.

It made total sense to me.  Look at how many divorces are due to "you're not the man I married anymore" and that's without a body change.  His personality changed, too.  My thought was that neither of them gave it enough time to really make it work.  But hey, I'm not the author, and her take on things made for a more interesting story.



Arion

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Reply #11 on: March 01, 2009, 01:19:42 AM
With all due respect to RAH, I thought this story was a much better study of the subject than was done in "I will fear no evil" which, due to the completely unexplained presence of the previous brain inhabitants "soul" sticking around made that novel more fantasy than SF for me.

Good stuff, imo.



JoeFitz

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Reply #12 on: March 02, 2009, 12:01:08 AM
It doesn't make sense for a devoted wife to have difficulty accepting the same husband in a new body.  That part bothered me.

It made total sense to me.  Look at how many divorces are due to "you're not the man I married anymore" and that's without a body change.  His personality changed, too.  My thought was that neither of them gave it enough time to really make it work.  But hey, I'm not the author, and her take on things made for a more interesting story.


It initially did bother me, too, in that my visceral reaction was that the "devoted wife" was being shallow. But then it struck me as incredibly realistic and frankly quite insightful. How could it not matter that the one you love died and now the re-appears, psychologically traumatized and in a new body? The rest of the story sort of fell away. It reminded me a lot of the film Freejack, whose premise isn't so different - and weirdly is set in 2009, according to Wikipedia.



FNH

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Reply #13 on: March 02, 2009, 06:14:33 PM
Deep insightful, but a bit boring. 


Poppydragon

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Reply #14 on: March 02, 2009, 06:43:00 PM
...but a bit boring. 

I'd have to agree I'm afraid, I just couldn't warm to the characters and found my attention wandering. It wasn't terrible, but...

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.


DigitalVG

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Reply #15 on: March 02, 2009, 08:54:32 PM
This story read almost as a long and scantily-clad dig at transgendered people.

The character of Thomas was entirely predictable by the time he appeared.  There were all the tired old tropes about how they're not really happy and they always end up in some miserable relationship with their own kind.  Everyone around them suffering for it, and so on.  Even the bit about unions makes more sense in that context as it's only been via state and city employee unions that a lot of transgendered people have gotten coverage for what is otherwise a very expensive operation.

Much like in the story's world, in recent years, a right-wing nuts have busily set about trying to rewrite the standards of care making it much more difficult for transgendered people to go through transition, making claims that they'll be unhappy and 'no better off' and that people 'become' transgendered by associating with other transgendered people.  They toss around the label of 'autogynophile', which is clearly what the character Thomas is meant to represent.  Mirrors on the ceiling et al.

Nevermind, of course that these people are generally 'deeply religious'(tm) and you could make the same arguments about their 'faith' that they make about 'transgendered'.  They seem fundamentally unhappy and unchanged.  Most of them become born-again only after associating with other born-agains, and they certainly like to stare upwards and proclaim how holy and righteous they are.


Sorry.  Couldn't really see this as a story so much as a political essay and it made me wince for friends and loved ones that I know have suffered for those sorts of stereotypes.

As a story, it really fell flat.  What happened?  Fat lot of nothing.  All the characters were static.  Nobody changed, nothing happened.  The reveal wasn't really very big.  There wasn't any real exploration of his experience or of any of the other FTs.  Nothing that would qualify as sci-fi really. 
It was a story about a marital problems.  Wowie zowie.  You could have replaced 'FT' with 'Cancer Survivor', 'Amputee', 'Impotent', 'Had an affair', 'lost a child', or 'going bald' and you would have had exactly the same story.

Finally, I couldn't even parse the part about Dr. Fire.  Seemed like it was some fragment of a rant that was supposed to make some kind of point yet utterly failed to be coherent.

But...  I suppose if you want to give us a taste of what it will be like to stand in lines at the unemployment office, waiting for the government dole in the apocalyptic post-Bush nightmare of a failed economy...  Flawless execution!



Zathras

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Reply #16 on: March 02, 2009, 09:24:41 PM
This story read almost as a long and scantily-clad dig at transgendered people.

...

But...  I suppose if you want to give us a taste of what it will be like to stand in lines at the unemployment office, waiting for the government dole in the apocalyptic post-Bush nightmare of a failed economy...  Flawless execution!


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DKT

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Reply #17 on: March 02, 2009, 10:05:00 PM
Absolutely loved this story. Fascinating ideas here. Great writing that held onto me the whole time. I'm kind of with Listener that the reveal of him taking a bullet for Callahan didn't really pay-off the "How did I die?" mystery the way I hoped it would, but it still worked well enough for me.

Those who liked the tech but thought the story was boring? Can I recommend Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs books (Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, Woken Furies). They involve a mercenary and "sleeving" tech. Good reads. At one point, he realizes his new body is addicted to nicotine.

As a story, it really fell flat.  What happened?  Fat lot of nothing.  All the characters were static.  Nobody changed, nothing happened.  The reveal wasn't really very big.  There wasn't any real exploration of his experience or of any of the other FTs.  Nothing that would qualify as sci-fi really. 
It was a story about a marital problems.  Wowie zowie.  You could have replaced 'FT' with 'Cancer Survivor', 'Amputee', 'Impotent', 'Had an affair', 'lost a child', or 'going bald' and you would have had exactly the same story.

I have to disagree. I can't imagine substituting any of the above and coming up with the same story. Maybe "marital problems" in a story is a deterrent for you (which is fair enough) but the tech in this story felt intrinsic to the story. But the problems that stemmed from FT felt like an honest exploration.


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Reply #18 on: March 02, 2009, 11:28:35 PM
This story read almost as a long and scantily-clad dig at transgendered people.

I'm not so sure that it's a dig. I mean, sure it has a tragic ending but how many body swapping tales end happily?

It's a story about the human condition; life sucks and then you die, and then they bring you back and it sucks even more.



DigitalVG

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Reply #19 on: March 03, 2009, 12:05:52 AM
This story read almost as a long and scantily-clad dig at transgendered people.

I'm not so sure that it's a dig. I mean, sure it has a tragic ending but how many body swapping tales end happily?

It's a story about the human condition; life sucks and then you die, and then they bring you back and it sucks even more.
I wasn't sure what to call it.  It lacks the energy of a screed and isn't openly hostile just kind of negative.  There was a story on Pseudopod recently that was also about people being very disturbed/depressed/damaged in their life after death experience.  Thought it handled the topic a bit better.  This one seemed to have no meat.  People brought back to life are hopelessly sad and depressed.  No real reason given other than apparently, people aren't able to adapt.

Dunno.  For myself, I was hit by a drunk driver when I was 19.  Woke up in a CAT scanner with partial amnesia and a need for some face reconstruction.  Maybe that's what bothered me about this story a bit.  I went through the experience of not being allowed to see a mirror while someone tried to talk to me about reconstruction and things like that.   I was not badly disfigured, but I did experience the same kind of shock as the character in this story.  I had 20-odd stitches in my face and was missing three teeth.  I'd been proud of my looks.  19 is a hard age to have that shattered so instantly, and I can't tell you how unsettling it is to look in a mirror and realize the white that you see is your own skull but...  I got over it pretty quickly, and after a dozen operations (mostly dental work, bone grafts, and one very painful gingigraft) I don't think about it.

We're pretty adaptive creatures and it seems unlikely to me that people getting a whole new body would really be depressed for very long.  Moments of strangeness, sure.  I have moments of upset, not being able to recall whether something happened to me as a child or was something I saw on TV, and moments of sadness, when I try to play my flute and it causes my face to tick and twitch for a day afterwards and I can't hold the ombiture to play as well as I once did but...  All in all,  I'm happy to be alive.  I mean, if it's any showing of how unaffected I am by it, I thought of transgendered people when I heard this story and didn't even have the "Wait a sec.  I had a similar experience!" until I was making this comment.



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Reply #20 on: March 03, 2009, 02:36:29 AM
Thought the story was above-average, at best. I was expecting something where the past identity of the host body affected the protagonist's personality more, as his inner environment, his self, was thoroughly changed with the FT. The whole element of a full-body transplant seems tacked on, as this story could have been told from the perspective of a burn victim, or just someone who was horribly disfigured in an accent and had to have extensive reconstructive surgery done. It would net the same reactions from loved ones and co-workers (the guilt that Marlene felt when she felt that a stranger was in her house when it really was her husband and the artificial way Callahan acted by pretending nothing had really happened).

There was one thing I didn't really get though. What was that flash of insight at the end when he remembers the grateful look his wife gives to Callahan? Maybe I didn't catch it, as I was on a walk in a noisier part of town when I listened to the podcast.

(God, I joined so long ago and never really posted. I should to this more often.)



izzardfan

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Reply #21 on: March 03, 2009, 08:17:32 AM
After reading the last few posts, I went back and read what I'd written much earlier, and sure enough, I stand by my take on things.  At first I wondered if I listened to the same story as everyone else, but then I realized what it is.   I listened to the first 150 EP stories with next to nothing negative to say about any of them, and this isn't any different.

I'm just much easier to please.   ;D



alllie

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Reply #22 on: March 03, 2009, 01:36:59 PM
This story read almost as a long and scantily-clad dig at transgendered people...

I don't know that it was a dig but I could see the full transplants as a metaphor for transgendered people, especially since, at first, I thought Callahan was male. Then, given their relationship, I got the impression that Callahan was a man who had been given a full transplant to the body of a woman and found himself falling for his partner, who kept on acting as he/she always had but started feeling differently.

I was wrong but I think that would have been a more interesting story, a more interesting tragedy.



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Reply #23 on: March 03, 2009, 01:57:41 PM
I don't know that it was a dig but I could see the full transplants as a metaphor for transgendered people, especially since, at first, I thought Callahan was male. Then, given their relationship, I got the impression that Callahan was a man who had been given a full transplant to the body of a woman and found himself falling for his partner, who kept on acting as he/she always had but started feeling differently.

I was wrong but I think that would have been a more interesting story, a more interesting tragedy.

The more I think about it, I think Callahan wanted to be transplaneted into a man's body. That's why she hesitated with the shooter, it was the only way she could have a chance at getting the body she wanted.



Listener

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Reply #24 on: March 03, 2009, 04:37:33 PM
I don't know that it was a dig but I could see the full transplants as a metaphor for transgendered people, especially since, at first, I thought Callahan was male. Then, given their relationship, I got the impression that Callahan was a man who had been given a full transplant to the body of a woman and found himself falling for his partner, who kept on acting as he/she always had but started feeling differently.

I was wrong but I think that would have been a more interesting story, a more interesting tragedy.

The more I think about it, I think Callahan wanted to be transplaneted into a man's body. That's why she hesitated with the shooter, it was the only way she could have a chance at getting the body she wanted.

Upon further reflection, that sounds quite plausible. She always did try to be one of the guys, to the point of actually using the men's locker room.

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