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Author Topic: EP206: Rogue Farm  (Read 4495 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: July 11, 2009, 05:20:34 PM »

EP206: Rogue Farm

By Charles Stross.
Recorded at Balticon 43, May 23, 2009
Read by:
Joe - Jared Axelrod (of The Voice of Free Planet X)
Maddie - J.R. Blackwell (of Voices of Tomorrow)
The Farm - Evo Terra and Sheila Dee (of Evo at 11, et al.)
Brenda the Barkeep - Dee Reed (of Nobilis Erotica)
Wendy the Rat - Laura Burns
Art the Boy Toy - John Cmar
Bob the Dog - Earl Newton (of Stranger Things)
Narrator - Stephen Eley

Special Thanks to:
Paul Fischer (of The Balticon Podcast) for instigating and organizing
Nobilis Reed (of Nobilis Erotica) for engineering

First appeared in Live Without a Net, ed. Lou Anders.
Now available in Wireless, by Charles Stross

“Buggerit, I don’t have time for this,” Joe muttered. The stable waiting for the small herd of cloned spidercows cluttering up the north paddock was still knee-deep in manure, and the tractor seat wasn’t getting any warmer while he shivered out here waiting for Maddie to come and sort this thing out. It wasn’t a big herd, but it was as big as his land and his labour could manage – the big biofabricator in the shed could assemble mammalian livestock faster than he could feed them up and sell them with an honest HAND-RAISED NOT VAT-GROWN label.

“What do you want with us?” he yelled up at the gently buzzing farm.

“Brains, fresh brains for baby Jesus,” crooned the farm in a warm contralto, startling Joe half out of his skin. “Buy my brains!” Half a dozen disturbing cauliflower shapes poked suggestively out of the farms’ back then retracted again, coyly.

“Don’t want no brains around here,” Joe said stubbornly, his fingers whitening on the stock of the shotgun. “Don’t want your kind round here, neither. Go away.”


Rated PG. for strong language, chemical violence, and drug-abusing dogs.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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alllie
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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2009, 05:32:22 PM »

A lot of fun. Thanks to all the performers.

Whenever I watch or try to watch the slow disintegration of the Scifi, now, idiotically, the SyFy network, I always think that what they need to do to save themselves is to give Stephen Eley creative control. He could fix it.
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Boggled Coriander
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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2009, 10:12:52 PM »

I just finished listening to this one and I have to say it's my favorite EP in a long, long time. 

The story was great.  I'm happy to hear Stross on Escape Pod, although I must admit I was totally rooting for the farm to win in the end.

I was really impressed with the production values in this one.  I was prepared to overlook all sorts of production hiccups such as microphone problems, inaudible lines, etc.  I didn't hear anything like that.  And the live studio audience was great.

Well done.
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bolddeceiver
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2009, 01:17:08 PM »

I love Charles Stross so much.  This is everything that's good about his branch of singularity-punk SF -- thought-provoking extrapolation, relatable, human characters, deliciousy bittersweet moral ambiguity.  Best of all, as usual, Stross delicately walks the tightrope between explaining the fascinating future technology and moving along the plot enough to keep the reader engaged.

I'm going to add another vote for favorite EP in a long time.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2009, 01:24:41 PM by bolddeceiver » Logged
Praxis
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2009, 08:31:52 AM »

I liked the story and (is this a particularly sci-fi thing) there were lots of mentions of initially unexplained things (like what on earth a rogue farm is anyway) that kept me listening.

Please don't do another live recording.
It is fun to hear people recording, I agree, but each time someone laughed or seemed confused about the lines they were reading, it took me right out of the story and back to 'I'm listening to people reading a story'.  If that makes sense.
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DarkKnightJRK
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2009, 07:29:12 PM »

Very cool ep. Great story and I tend to more enjoy when there are multiple actors reading it, if not just so that the women characters actually sound like women (no offense meant to the guys who've narrated here before).
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2009, 07:46:18 AM »

This was a really great performance -- the "brains... fresh brains..." part totally wouldn't have worked without a chorus.

HOWEVER... stories in this subgenre -- I guess the genre is posthumanist? I don't really know; someone correct me -- really get on my nerves with their preachiness. I feel like there are all these little infodumps -- the thing about the internet and filtering/keyword software especially turned me off because it felt so obviously HOLY SHIT WHAT ARE YOU MORONS ALLOWING TO HAPPEN TODAY??? to me. Neverminding the fact that Stross is RIGHT, it still bothers me because it feels so out of place. Things like that really detract from the stories. It's like "here's a great SF tale, oh yeah, and by the way, CAUTIONARY TALE ALERT".

It sucks because I love stories set in worlds like this -- Greg Bear's "Slant" is one of my top... oh, let's say 100... future-earth books, but even he does it from time to time (most notably with the "tetragrammaton" as being "fuck").

It was a good story, other than the infodumps/cautionary tale bits.

Hey, Steve, if you plan to do one of these at DragonCon I'd be glad to drive into the city to help.
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eytanz
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« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2009, 08:01:19 AM »

I really enjoyed the live performance. I'd hate it if EP switches format on a permanent basis (not, mind you, that I think that's even on the table), but as an occasional special, I would love to see more of these. In this case, the varied cast, the background audience, and the fact that everyone was certainly having a ton of fun doing it served to turn what I would consider a rather mediocre story into a really, really cool listening experience.

Story itself - as I said, not a huge fan of it. It seemed more interested in playing with cool and silly ideas on how the future may be than actually saying anything interesting with them. The characters are mono-dimensional and seem to be aware that they're in a story ("So, Joe, can you please summarize how farms work for the benefit of the audience?", "Why, certainly, ms. the Rat...").
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Doom xombie
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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2009, 10:39:24 AM »

I agree with eytanz, Interesting, fun special occasion format. Would definitely be interesting to see it on more special occasions. I liked the way a story flowed and yet still had that element of being read to other people, not just you. Its kind of like when you watch a movie at a movie theater vs a DVD at home. You hear people laughing or trying to have their baby be quiet but it doesn't ruin the experience and in some ways enriches it.

Also not a fan of the story, as mentioned above it didn't really have a character driven plot, it had more of an idea driven plot. Which works in a lot of cases but not really this one. Also I felt like I wasn't getting the whole story. What exactly happened to the government for example. The impression I got is that it was somehow reduced, and at the same time expanded greatly... For me there were a lot of ideas like that that didn't quite get across.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2009, 10:42:30 AM by Doom xombie » Logged

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Russell Nash
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« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2009, 04:16:25 PM »

I felt sorry for poor Vickie.  She seemed so confused and hurt.  I wonder how long she was at the bar.
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Talia
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2009, 10:12:39 PM »

So much fun! I would also welcome more stories of this format (on a special occasion basis anyway. Sorry Praxis, I have to disagree!).

I must say having two people do the voice of the farm was PERFECT! When they were out of sync as live readers tend to wind up, it felt just right, for a being that's like a collection of different conciousnesses.

I periodically had trouble following the story itself, but liked it overall, and the moments of humor and/or absurdity were absolutely delicious and just my cup of Romulan ale. (I hate tea)
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wakela
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2009, 01:29:47 AM »

HOWEVER... stories in this subgenre -- I guess the genre is posthumanist? I don't really know; someone correct me -- really get on my nerves with their preachiness. I feel like there are all these little infodumps -- the thing about the internet and filtering/keyword software especially turned me off because it felt so obviously HOLY SHIT WHAT ARE YOU MORONS ALLOWING TO HAPPEN TODAY??? to me. Neverminding the fact that Stross is RIGHT, it still bothers me because it feels so out of place. Things like that really detract from the stories. It's like "here's a great SF tale, oh yeah, and by the way, CAUTIONARY TALE ALERT".

Double-plus yes.  Stross's Glasshouse was a few fantstic ideas and a giant wall of preach.  I think this kind of thing dates a story.  Well, I know it does because many of the nuclear war/overpopulation/computers run amok scare stories of the 70s seem silly now.  In 2010:Odyessey Two the Soviet Union and the US are still squabbling over Central America.  The actual 2010 will be much more interesting.

But I did enjoy this story, and the recording was great.  "Recorded Live" are the two most dreaded words in podcasting, but this was the exception to the rule. 

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Praxis
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2009, 04:30:50 PM »

So much fun! I would also welcome more stories of this format (on a special occasion basis anyway. Sorry Praxis, I have to disagree!).

Boo.

*Crosses Talia of non-belief-specific religious festival card list*
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Nanda
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« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2009, 07:25:44 PM »

Loved it! Great cast, the dog was hilarious!


Thanks!
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DKT
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« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2009, 11:29:43 AM »

The pot smoking dog was awesome. So was the rogue farm asking "BRAAAAAAAINNS for JESUS?" Some very cool eyeball kicks and descriptions along the way, too (like why the bar didn't have any electricity).

Excellent performances from the cast, and yeah, I'd be okay hearing more of these live performances occasionally.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2009, 02:54:31 AM »

I've already established I'm an arse, soooooo...

I didn't enjoy the reading, mainly because it was obviously a British story in a British setting. Having it read by an American cast was... distracting.

Story was kinda fun, though. And believe me, I can totally understand how much fun a live reading is for the performers, so I can hardly fault you for that :-)  Also, everyone seemed to be having a great time, which goes a long way to making the whole thing enjoyable. Despite what I said above, I'd happily hear more of these, rehearsed or not.
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JoeFitz
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« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2009, 07:26:55 AM »

A lot of fun was clearly had by all. I loved Mr. Eley's: "When the singularity comes, you'll be the first against the wall!" Works (or doesn't) on so many levels.

Anyway, I echo some of the comments above that the story, while sometimes interesting, lacked character development. There was some good fodder (not just from the spider-cows) with a farmer who dislikes farms, a farmer whose farmer's wife is a cloned soldier, a farmer who kills his wife over and over again when she goes "soft" and that dog.

That said, I did like the breathless description of how trees become rockets and the idea of predatory farms raze the earth to leave the planet.
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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2009, 12:40:27 PM »

Strange fun odd story. LOVED the live reading- hiccoughs and all
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Roney
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« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2010, 05:28:59 PM »

I didn't enjoy the reading, mainly because it was obviously a British story in a British setting. Having it read by an American cast was... distracting.

For me that was part of the charm.  There were times where you could hear that the written words were intended to be Cumbrian but the reading of them placed the story in fictional-American-farmcountry-land.  For many Americans this may be a vivid, realistic environment but to these British (and other European?) eyes it's sufficiently alien that it might as well be a fantasy or western setting.

Mingling the descriptions of a parched future Cumbria (and anyone who's been to the Lake District will appreciate the exoticism of attaching "parched" to it) with the characters portrayed by non-local voices gave it, for me, a really good jolt of reality-not-how-it-is-now.  Maybe in a few decades that's how it will be.

Quote
Story was kinda fun, though. And believe me, I can totally understand how much fun a live reading is for the performers, so I can hardly fault you for that :-)  Also, everyone seemed to be having a great time, which goes a long way to making the whole thing enjoyable. Despite what I said above, I'd happily hear more of these, rehearsed or not.

Seconded on all of that.  I'm way behind with my EP episodes so I've been away for a while, but I'm hoping to catch up.  This story was shot through with so much joy (from the writing to the casting to the performance) that I had to drop by and leave a comment.  It fulfilled EP's "have fun" mission statement better than any I've heard.  Congratulations to all involved.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2010, 08:52:51 AM »

Well that was fun!  I wouldn't want to hear live-recordings frequently, but as an occasional episode it worked very well to spice up the mix!  Also, it would be really cool to actually be able to attend a live recording, wouldn't it?  Smiley

The live audience laughing was a nice touch, made it more like seeing a live theatre performance where everything is funnier when other people are laughing with you.  Makes me think back to my college days when I was a sometimes performer in drama club.  There was one particular faculty member with a particularly loud, easily-provoked, contagious laugh, and whenever she would come the play that night was twice as good as any other night, because she would laugh at a joke, and the other audience members would feed off her and laugh louder, and the cast would grow more confident and make the punchlines even better, and I loved that aspect so much.

I have trouble watching reruns of old TV shows when recorded laugh lines were the norm.  those lines must have been recorded by the writers themselves "Here's my joke, now cue laughter!" because they were always after the canned predictable humor, never after anything that was really funny.  Live audiences are so much better because it's the audience not the production crew that's timing it.

I LOVED the chorus voice of the farm, especially the mixed male/female aspect.  Whether they were in sync or not in sync I just loved that part, and combined with their bizarro weird lines I cracked up whenever the Farm was onscreen.

The parts where the farm wasn't onscreen were a little slow, if only in comparison to the Farm.  The pot-smoking dog was kind of funny but I had trouble understanding what he was saying.  Overall the story wasn't bad, though the Farm humor makes the whole thing more than worthwhile.  As eytanz pointed out, there just wasn't much to the characters, just heaps and heaps of ideas piled atop one another.  The ideas were cool enough that it more or less worked, but having more compelling characters could have really made a good story transcend.
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