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Author Topic: EP200: All You Zombies  (Read 35874 times)

Russell Nash

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on: July 03, 2009, 06:17:43 AM
EP200: All You Zombies

By Robert A. Heinlein.
Read by Steve Eley.

I was polishing a brandy snifter when the Unmarried Mother came in. I noted the time—10:17 P. M. zone five, or eastern time, November 7th, 1970. Temporal agents always notice time and date; we must.

The Unmarried Mother was a man twenty–five years old, no taller than I am, childish features and a touchy temper. I didn’t like his looks—I never had—but he was a lad I was here to recruit, he was my boy. I gave him my best barkeep’s smile.

Maybe I’m too critical. He wasn’t swish; his nickname came from what he always said when some nosy type asked him his line: “I’m an unmarried mother.” If he felt less than murderous he would add: “at four cents a word. I write confession stories.”

If he felt nasty, he would wait for somebody to make something of it. He had a lethal style of infighting, like a female cop—reason I wanted him. Not the only one.

He had a load on, and his face showed that he despised people more than usual. Silently I poured a double shot of Old Underwear and left the bottle. He drank it, poured another.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: September 10, 2009, 05:27:46 PM by Russell Nash »



deflective

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Reply #1 on: July 03, 2009, 06:36:29 AM
congratulations on four years of great fiction.  it's a fun ride and i'm always curious to see what's next.

fantastic choice for episode two hundred, it's one of a few stories that is absolutely, undeniably a scifi plot.  i can't imagine it translated into any other genre.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2009, 05:26:17 PM by deflective »



Russell Nash

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Reply #2 on: July 03, 2009, 08:31:26 AM
congratulations on four years of great fiction.  it's been a fun ride and i'm still always curious to see what comes next.

fantastic choice for episode two hundred, it's one of a few stories that absolutely, undeniably have a scifi plot.  i can't imagine it translated into another genre.

A Battle of Wits.  I accept.  I've never read the story.  I'll give it a shot after I listen to the episode.



Talia

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Reply #3 on: July 03, 2009, 08:38:15 AM
Oooh.

I've never read any Heinlein. But this certainly qualifies as one of the best story titles I've ever seen.
Can't wait to give it a listen.

As an aside, I'm totally gonna start a band called All You Zombies.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2009, 02:09:20 PM by Talia »



izzardfan

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Reply #4 on: July 03, 2009, 08:43:13 AM
I've never read any Heinlein.

Ack!  This rates up there with me saying I didn't like Firefly!  Sacrilege!

 ;)



Talia

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Reply #5 on: July 03, 2009, 08:44:49 AM
I've never read any Heinlein.

Ack!  This rates up there with me saying I didn't like Firefly!  Sacrilege!

 ;)

Ah but my situation is correctable ;)

(don't stab me)



Russell Nash

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Reply #6 on: July 03, 2009, 10:46:03 AM
Haven't listened yet, but I already have the Hooters song stuck in my head.  I wonder if this was the inspiration. 


Just checked Wikipedia.  Seems one of the band had read the story as a kid, but beyond the title there's no connection.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2009, 10:52:36 AM by Russell Nash »



Zathras

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Reply #7 on: July 03, 2009, 12:06:44 PM
I've never read any Heinlein.

Ack!  This rates up there with me saying I didn't like Firefly!  Sacrilege!

 ;)

Ah but my situation is correctable ;)

(don't stab me)

I'm giving Freakishly Huge Arms Dude the day off.

::Whacks Talia repeatedly with the chair::

Waiting for the download to finish now.  I had a feeling that EP 200 was a Heinlein story.  When there was mention of a battle with the estate, he was the first author to pop in my head.

Download, damn you! 

Steve's reading + Heinlein's writing = a match made in Mars.



Zathras

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Reply #8 on: July 03, 2009, 01:04:39 PM
Outstanding reading!  I was concerned that it might not translate well into an audio format.  I love this story, and am ecstatic that it will be introduced to the younger members. 

I liked the outro.  I have introduced my step son to some of the stories I enjoyed as a teen.  Hearing him talk about the stuff is one of the few positives in our relationship.



Listener

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Reply #9 on: July 03, 2009, 01:38:09 PM
I love Heinlein -- I prefer his books to his shorts, though -- and this story was complete Heinlein in that it starts out relatively small/simple and blooms into a MUCH larger story. The common aspect of betting for something that runs through a lot of Heinlein fiction that I've read was represented here, though I think that if this was someone's first or second foray into Heinlein s/he might not understand the concept.

Personally I think Heinlein must be rolling over in his grave so frequently these days that he could power an artificial gravity system. You can tell, reading his books, where he readjusts his thinking as to what the future's going to be like every few years or so. Eventually, as with The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, I think he gave up and just slammed all his futures together because he knew that none of them would come true no matter how much he wished for it. I would love to see just about any Heinlein future come to fruition because, as dark as some of the things were in his books, they all had this positive feel to them, like if the main character could just do something, go somewhere, complete a task, that everything would work out better. You see it in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Friday, Time Enough For Love, Job: A Comedy of Justice, and the like. If I wanted any human to be immortal just so he could keep producing great stories, I would want that human to be Heinlein.

So, in short: I liked the story, though not as much as his books.

Not a huge fan of Steve's "big dude" voice, but that's not such a big deal.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

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Russell Nash

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Reply #10 on: July 03, 2009, 05:42:41 PM
Wow, I've never heard Vicki so flustered.



Bdoomed

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Reply #11 on: July 03, 2009, 06:40:45 PM
bravo, Steve.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Russell Nash

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Reply #12 on: July 03, 2009, 07:24:53 PM
That's what  get for not really paying attention to dates in stories.  This one snuck up behind me, ripped out my brain, and showed it to me. 

Excellent number 200.  Who do we get for number 300, Clarke?



deflective

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Reply #13 on: July 03, 2009, 10:46:40 PM
This one snuck up behind me, ripped out my brain, and showed it to me. 

is that a concession in the battle of wits you declared? =P
« Last Edit: July 04, 2009, 05:31:04 PM by deflective »



izzardfan

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Reply #14 on: July 04, 2009, 09:16:26 AM
I've never read any Heinlein.

Ack!  This rates up there with me saying I didn't like Firefly!  Sacrilege!

 ;)

Ah but my situation is correctable ;)

(don't stab me)

 ;D



alllie

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Reply #15 on: July 04, 2009, 01:17:55 PM
Congratulations on the 200th episode!!

All You Zombies: So typically Heinleinian. A combination of brilliance and sexism. So in the future there’s a Whore Corps in Space. I bet it was someone like Heinlein who decided there should be “comfort women.”

I hate Heinlein and enjoy him. Sometimes. He’s one of the first science fiction writers I ever read and certainly the first one whose name I learned because he was the first writer whose politics offended me even when I was so young I had no politics. Interesting story. Except for the part where he made my flesh crawl. Sometimes we don’t treat ourselves as well as we should. We eat the wrong things, drink the wrong things, take the wrong things. But I don’t think many people, given the chance, would seduce and abandon themselves, leaving themselves to growing up in an orphanage, etc. Except in a Heinlein story.



Zathras

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Reply #16 on: July 04, 2009, 03:09:11 PM
Unwed Mother (UM) did not know he was seducing herself. 

The Recruiter knew what had transpired.  This story is more about paradox.  He was accepted into the Corps because he had always been accepted into the Corps.

The rank issue was nicely handled.  The Sergeant was in a unique position of outranking and being outranked by the same person at the same time.



Raving_Lunatic

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Reply #17 on: July 04, 2009, 03:34:09 PM
It's stories like this that remind me why I chose the path of the geeky SF-loving kid in the corner rather than the normal person I could have become. Truly fantastic, can't reccommend it highly enough and worth a wait. Thank you, and kudos.



Russell Nash

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Reply #18 on: July 04, 2009, 07:50:05 PM
This one snuck up behind me, ripped out my brain, and showed it to me. 

is that a concession in the battle of wits you declared? =P

Weekends are a little busy for me so I'll work on it on Monday.  In your original challenge you said this story couldn't be forced into a Fantasy setting, but I think it would probably work fine there.  The technology here is basically magic.



Talia

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Reply #19 on: July 04, 2009, 08:32:19 PM
OK, I finally had a listen and msut admit, interesting as it was, I don't get the "zombies" part.

:/

I mean I guess its a reference to his/her past selves.. I just don't get it. Why would he think of them as zombies? Or it some way of thinking of them as not real people, since he's him, and they aren't, or something.



eytanz

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Reply #20 on: July 04, 2009, 11:38:05 PM
First, let me say, this was a really, really great story. I am not the biggest fan of Heinlein in the world - I find him a bit much at times - but he sure knew how to mix complex ideas with an entertaining prose.

I could have done without the casual sexism, but it was very clearly a product of the society at the time it was written. I also think the "I am my own grandpa" jukebox incident was a bit silly, as it basically tipped the hand too early. But overall, a brilliant story, well executed.

OK, I finally had a listen and msut admit, interesting as it was, I don't get the "zombies" part.

:/

I mean I guess its a reference to his/her past selves.. I just don't get it. Why would he think of them as zombies? Or it some way of thinking of them as not real people, since he's him, and they aren't, or something.

It's a reference to everyone else in the world, that isn't him. I think the point is this - he is a closed loop, being his own father and mother (and, once the story is done, also the person who arranged for them to meet). He knows exactly where he came from, and who he is. This gives him a stronger sense of identity than most people have. He thinks of other people as zombies, because he can't be sure that they exist. This is the usual solipsistic view that many people experience sooner or later in their lives, except that most of us also know that we were brought into this world by other people, and therefore we at least have grounds to believe that other people exist. But the flip side of the narrator being his own parents is that he knows for a fact that his existence doesn't depend on anyone elses, and therefore, I think, he has a stronger solipsistic streak than most.



contra

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Reply #21 on: July 05, 2009, 12:08:34 AM
I love this story; I always have.
I remember reading it, and then realised Red Dwarf referenced this story heavily.

As for the zombie thing; I took that was due to everyone else around him being interchangable.  He could bump into someone, and stop whole people from existing, and events happening; to everyone just becomes a rotating nothing mass of people.  He is immune to that.  So he is a constant if you will; that if he wanted he could have other events intersect.  Everything else is meaningless for him.

Anyway.
Awesome.
Thank you.

---
Mike---Glasgow.  Scotland.-->


deflective

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Reply #22 on: July 05, 2009, 03:19:50 AM
In your original challenge you said this story couldn't be forced into a Fantasy setting, but I think it would probably work fine there.

you're gonna want to reread that.

Why would he think of them as zombies?

other people have made strong interpretations but i think it goes even further.  the main character isn't strictly human (according to some definitions of 'species').  he is a spontaneously occurring entity that just happens to take on the appearance of the local species.  he has no human ancestors or relatives, his dna & characteristics weren't drawn from our gene pool.  he is, in a way, separate from our universe entirely since he isn't the result of a causal chain of events.  he isn't just a result of a paradox, he is a paradox.

this kind of time travel story is much more interesting than the alternate timeline version of time travel that's become the default.



Russell Nash

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Reply #23 on: July 05, 2009, 04:29:00 PM
In your original challenge you said this story couldn't be forced into a Fantasy setting, but I think it would probably work fine there.

you're gonna want to reread that.


you might be able to cram it into a fantasy setting with spells & magic items but it would be really, really forced.

Fine really, really forced.  It was a year ago.  Cut me some slack.

This story would actually be "more realistic" as a fantasy piece.  We always complain about time paradoxes, and this story was a nesting of time paradoxes inside of time paradoxes. 

I give.  I don't think I can turn this into a non-Speculative Fiction story.  This story is also in no way a realistic SF story.

I guess I need to change my original challenge to be that I can change any SF story with a realistic timeline into a non-SF story.



Rain

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Reply #24 on: July 05, 2009, 04:47:58 PM
Meh. I feel the same way as i did about Nightfall in episode 100, huge hype and a big letdown, as a normal Escape Pod episode i would have thought it was ok, for a special episode like this that was long awaited, it didnt hold up

But to be fair i think Legends in all genres are usually overrated and it is the same with Science Fiction, mediocre to bad stories get high praise because the author is considered a legend, and the author is usually considered a legend because he/she was one of the first well known to write in the genre, when this story came out fifty years ago it might have been special, but not today.