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Author Topic: EP196: Evil Robot Monkey  (Read 5515 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: April 23, 2009, 11:00:54 AM »

EP196: Evil Robot Monkey

By Mary Robinette Kowal.
Read by Stephen Eley.
First appeared in the Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, vol. 2, edited by George Mann.

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Sliding his hands over the clay, Sly relished the moisture oozing around his fingers. The clay matted down the hair on the back of his hands making them look almost human. He turned the potter’s wheel with his prehensile feet as he shaped the vase. Pinching the clay between his fingers he lifted the wall of the vase, spinning it higher.

Someone banged on the window of his pen. Sly jumped and then screamed as the vase collapsed under its own weight. He spun and hurled it at the picture window like feces. The clay spattered against the Plexiglas, sliding down the window.


Rated PG. Contains one angry chimp with a potty mouth. Sort of.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2009, 11:02:56 AM »

 Sad stoopid monkey.
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Zathras
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« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2009, 11:16:42 AM »

Really good story, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  But...Hugo?
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DKT
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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2009, 11:49:45 AM »

When Steve said it was short, I looked at the remaining time on my iPod and said "Feh." Still like 15 minutes left.

He wasn't kidding, though! I liked it, but I think I'm going to listen to Mary Robinette Kowal's reading of it before I really comment.
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Void Munashii
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2009, 09:53:38 AM »

  Short, but very enjoyable. I would love to see this idea expanded on in a longer piece.
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2009, 11:05:06 AM »

Short, enjoyable, worthy of EP, but "Exhalation" is still far and away the best of the Hugo nominees this year.  I doubt next week's "monkey story" will top it, but I'll give it a fair chance.

PS: A chimpanzee is not a monkey.
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2009, 01:44:54 AM »

Really good story, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  But...Hugo?

(with apologies to Zorag, but it was my thought exactlyCool
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Zathras
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2009, 02:05:04 AM »

Really good story, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  But...Hugo?

(with apologies to Zorag, but it was my thought exactlyCool

If you're sharing the same thoughts as me, I'm not the one you should be apologizing to.  The rest of the forum is probably a good place to start with the apologies...
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thomasowenm
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2009, 12:59:07 PM »

A story of an intellegent ape who is not at home with his species or humans.  Didn't I already see this on Futurama's Mar's University episode?  I did however like it, but nowhere near a Hugo.  Just a nice piece of fluff flash fiction.
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2009, 02:41:05 PM »

A story of an intellegent ape who is not at home with his species or humans. 

"Barnaby in Exile"
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« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2009, 12:05:21 AM »

I liked it alright, but I have to agree with Zorag and birdless.

I guess my problem with it is this.  In EP169, "How I Mounted Goldie, Saved My Partner Lori, and Sniffed Out The People’s Justice", the protagonist is a talking dog, and he never sounds like a human inhabiting a dog's body.  He sounds like a talking dog.  Barnaby of "Barnaby in Exile" managed to convince me that he was an ape, not just an unusually hairy human.

But Sly the Chimp sounds like a human trapped in a chimp body. 
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2009, 08:16:38 AM »

I didn't really enjoy this one. There was no new ground covered.
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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2009, 10:16:51 AM »

A story of an intellegent ape who is not at home with his species or humans. 

"Barnaby in Exile"

Half right. Barnaby was perfectly at home with humans, he just couldn't interact on the same level with his fellow species members, which is why it was such a tear-jerker.
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« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2009, 01:21:26 PM »

That the monkey's occupational therapy was shaping clay was useful as a story device because it gave the monkey a turdlike object to toss around.  But I also instantly thought of the clay as a reference to the biblical creation story, shaping a rational creature from the dust of the ground (especially as retold by poet Wilfred Owen:  "was it for this the clay grew tall?").  I.e., the uplifted monkey is a son of man, created in man's image, and now is empowered to create in his turn.

I wonder if the author was conscious of that connection.  I wonder if any other listener noticed it . . . or was it just my busy little mind making oblique connections?
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Loz
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« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2009, 01:18:07 PM »

Very odd. A perfectly decent first scene... That then turns out to be the entire story. Where's the conflict? Where's the argument and it's being either proved or disproved in the story? Not only is it surprising that it's been nominated as a Hugo, it's surprising that it was accepted by any editor in order to be published and so be nominated for a Hugo, it's not bad, it's just not a story. I would love to see these characters in a proper story, and the almost human chimp being used to examine the human condition. As is, this scene is not it.
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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2009, 01:46:21 PM »

I wasn't feeling this one- solid Meh material.  Not BAD.. just I'm jaded and I need GREAT
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Russell Nash
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« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2009, 02:06:45 PM »

I was surprised by the ending.  I said, "what, it's over?"  Where's the rest of it. 
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2009, 01:54:09 PM »

Monkey artist.  (Okay, not a monkey. But neither is the chimp in the story a monkey.)
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« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2009, 03:20:39 PM »

as an aside, I disagree with the implication that new ground has to be covered to make a story worthwhile.
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DigitalVG
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« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2009, 11:54:04 AM »

I enjoyed this one because the chimp was very real.  He wasn't hyper-intelligent.  He wasn't perfectly enlightened.  He was like us.  His reactions to body language and stuff were very nicely done and for such a short piece, it really shone that the writer had done a good deal of research on the subject and tried to stay as accurate and true to the character as possible.  This is what really makes good sci-fi for me.  Not just exploring an idea but carefully researching the ideas you're exploring, subtly giving your audience bits of information that will add to their knowledge and improve understanding of the world in the framework of a good story.  This chimp is a self-actualized being.  The implants may give him a slightly greater intellect, but it is his choice and conscious effort to be more than an animal.

On a more personal level, I think this also struck an interesting chord for me.  A couple of years ago, I visited the San Diego zoo with my partner and her family and sat down by the orangutan's habitat to sketch.  The oldest of the orangutans there came and sat beside the glass so we were only inches apart and both let me draw her and watched me draw her.  It's hard to explain exactly, but there was definitely some communication happening.  My understanding was that from the glances I would give her and the drawing I was doing, she definitely understood I was drawing her because she definitely also knew what other orangutans look like.  We spent a good half hour sitting like that and I'd periodically show her the drawing which she would look at until I took it away to work some more.   The session only ended when a group of noisy children came through and pressed up against the glass.  Then she and I both shuffled away.  Really a neat experience and very similar to experiences I've had when drawing children. 

I'm not sure she was pleased with my drawing, but she was definitely interested by it, and I'm betting anything that in her 30+ years there, I'm not the first person that's sat and drawn or painted pictures of her and that makes me imagine that she is genuinely interested in art, or at least in the limited interaction and communication that we were able to share.  It's something different from the people who are just looking at her and snapping photos.  Something she can see and experience that's outside her world.
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