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Author Topic: EP209: On the Eyeball Floor  (Read 9171 times)

Russell Nash

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on: July 31, 2009, 11:58:35 AM
EP209: On the Eyeball Floor

By Tina Connolly.
Read by Norm Sherman.
Closing song by Andrew Richardson.

We’ve got robotic arms to put the eyeballs in. Metal clamps to pulldown the eyelids. Tony, on Four, keeps the grease vats filled. Oil squirts nineteen times a minute to keep the eye sockets from squeaking. Tiny slick needles stitch on the lashes, while millions of different irises get stamped in magenta and yellow and cyan, so no two will ever be alike, just like us.

All that, and they can’t engineer anything—or anyone—to take over my job. People in Organs go home coated with grease and vinegar; people in Bones have lost fingers to the machines, and still nobody wants the job where a hundred half-live cyborgs line up in rows, twitching when your back is turned. Waiting for someone to talk to them, feel for them. Transcend them to life.

There are safety signs around the factory. “Scrub Up.” “Know Thyself.” “Don’t Blink.” That last is the best piece of advice, here on the eyeball floor.


Rated PG for angry awakening sentience and some swearing.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!



cgoode

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Reply #1 on: July 31, 2009, 01:45:06 PM
i've listened to every escape pod, psuedopod and podcastle story, but i've never posted a thing.  this story was so great, i had to register just so i could share how wonderful i thought it was.



stePH

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Reply #2 on: August 01, 2009, 04:04:02 AM
Okay, go ahead; we're listening. How wonderful did you think it was?

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Zathras

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Reply #3 on: August 03, 2009, 10:08:11 PM
Good story, but I had to remind myself it wasn't Pseudopod.



kibitzer

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Reply #4 on: August 04, 2009, 07:48:48 AM
Hmm. Interesting. I like the (slightly creepy) idea that cyborgs/robots/androids need to impress on? talk to? be encouraged by? someone to achieve self-awareness.

Nicely read, too.

What's a "slew-foot"?


Yargling

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Reply #5 on: August 04, 2009, 10:17:12 AM
Enjoyed the story, like the idea of self-aware androids having to cross the bridge over the uncanny valley effect. Add to that, the idea that they can feel human emotions, unsure how to process them like new borns thrust into consciousness.

And layered on top of that world, a story of romance and betray!



cuddlebug

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Reply #6 on: August 04, 2009, 10:58:57 AM
I just listened to the latest "All in the Mind" podcast on robotics and thought I'd share the link for anyone who enjoyed this story and would like to hear a bit more on design of robots. Especially the part on nursing robots (for both kids and the elderly) reminded me of the Eyeball Floor. Good stuff.

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/allinthemind/stories/2009/2638471.htm



Raving_Lunatic

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Reply #7 on: August 04, 2009, 04:31:39 PM
There was a Radio 4 show called All In The Mind, which used to be hosted by disgraced Doctor Raj Persaud.

I liked the story.. quite dark, and the reading added to that



Darwinist

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Reply #8 on: August 05, 2009, 12:50:54 AM
Yow!  Loved it.  Great reading by Norm.  Creepy.  Bizarre.  Love. Hate.  Robots. 

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


stePH

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Reply #9 on: August 05, 2009, 01:42:53 PM

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Listener

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Reply #10 on: August 05, 2009, 06:47:58 PM
I needed more to the premise. Why do the cyborgs need to be transcendent? The Kreshes, sure, but the miners?

The concept of battling your co-workers to do a popular or unpopular job was very cool.

I think I saw where it was going when Bill focused so sharply on Clementine.

Excellent reading by Norm, and the dramatic tension of the fight at the end was good, but overall I didn't really like the story.

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Kevin

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Reply #11 on: August 05, 2009, 10:29:04 PM
The stoy was interesting. I had never herd something like that before, and it remides me of the ST:TNG when Picard was kidnaped and tunred borg and then had the compleat memory of what they had them do against the Federation and all the people that had died under his hand and knowlage of Starfleet fighting. Even though there were alot that had beleved it wasn't his falt. That he was being used as a tool by the collective, but you can't help but feel that there were those that he was the one who broguht the death to the crews of starships. Even in the beinging of Deep Space Nine, Sisko blamed Picard, not the compleat indentay that was stolen from him and replaced by Locutus for his wifes death and had always a uneazy feeling knowing that he was there.

Ok, enough of Star Trek I can hear Steve say. The song was okay, though I think Hednrix "The wind cries Marry" would have been a bit better.   8)



kibitzer

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Reply #12 on: August 06, 2009, 04:16:22 AM
Aha. "Slue-Foot". Thanks for the ref, STeph.


stePH

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Reply #13 on: August 06, 2009, 04:23:27 AM
Aha. "Slue-Foot". Thanks for the ref, STeph.

Not that I thought it was all that helpful; "Slue-Foot Sue" is only mentioned in passing, in that entry.  Apparently the story's protagonist/POV character had an interest in Pecos Bill; I can't quite fathom how it was important to the story.

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-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


thomasowenm

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Reply #14 on: August 06, 2009, 11:00:12 PM
Didn't do much for me. A factory rat who loves his job just a little bit too much.   He physically assaults his co-worker and he still has his job?  They must have a strong union.   There is too much to suspend disbelief.  the idea of transcending cyborgs had potential but something for me was missing.  I can't quite place it.  Maybe it was too pat without explaining what causes constructs to either become alive or become a paper weight. 

The song at the end was a snoozer even for a song about a robot stalker.



DKT

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Reply #15 on: August 07, 2009, 05:34:55 PM
I loved this story. With Clementine, Tina Connolly hit the notes these kind of stories usually miss for me. My sympathies were engaged; I loved the switch that Bill might be going crazy and have kidnapped Sue, only to find out Clementine scratched out her eyes and made herself a brunette (after accidentally programming a receeding hairline) so she'd look like Sue. It just felt fresh and less preachy than the last few robots (okay, okay cyborgs) finding consciousness and emotions stories we've heard here. It was funny. And terrifying. Just, wow.

And geez, when did Norm Sherman mind meld with Jack Nicholson? I've never noticed it before, but in this story, it felt like he was channeling Jack as a disgruntled cybernetic factory employee and it made me grin from ear to ear. Who wouldn't pay money to see that? Great reading, Norm.


Talia

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Reply #16 on: August 17, 2009, 03:27:21 PM
Due to an internet outage, I am weeks behind here, but trying to catch up! Listened to this on the way to work this morning.

This story was creepy and fun. I think what I enjoyed most about it was just all the fun little details and how casually they are mentioned - the feet floor, Tony's love of grease - all these odd little things so strange to the reader, but so common and everyday to the narrator that they're merely mentioned in passing.

And as always, swell reading by Mr. Sherman.



r4diation

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Reply #17 on: August 26, 2009, 04:33:27 PM
As mentioned above, it was a great take on the "cyborgs/robots gaining emotion" genre. It made the artificial people more human, in that they pick up the darker human emotions such as obsession, rather than just the standard love, empathy, etc.



Planish

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Reply #18 on: September 01, 2009, 05:33:34 AM
...cross the bridge over the uncanny valley effect.
That's pretty good. Did you make that one up?

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JoeFitz

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Reply #19 on: September 12, 2009, 11:59:43 AM
The Transcending took center stage for me, with the rest falling away. The cyborg falling in love and modifying herself was very creepy and an interesting twist I had not considered. I was disappointed, however, with the love triangle between the two men and Sue intruding once it was established that it was the secondary plot.

This world felt weirdly antediluvian but not dystopic and I was interested more in what was happening outside the factory. The internal hierarchy was poorly explained because of the narrator and could have been clarified a bit more. Why let your employees engage in such dangerous games for "fill-ins"? Why was there no extra employees or people to be hired if a worker died - and then Sue left. Why would a factory that makes a semi-autonomous recycling machine need a "human" to make sure there was grease on the gears? Why did this factory shut down "at night" if there were cyborgs Transcending "loose" upstairs?

A stand-out choice, nonetheless.



MacArthurBug

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Reply #20 on: September 14, 2009, 11:42:05 AM
veryvery much liked this one. There were a few bits that went in directions I wasn't crazy about- more backround would have been great, in fact the whole thing had the feeling of something longer, bigger hiding under the waters but refusing to show more then a little of itself. Still! I felt this was a great fit for this cast, and per usual unless it makes me grumptious I adore it!

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Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.


Gamercow

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Reply #21 on: October 12, 2009, 07:01:33 PM
I listened to about 15 podcasts driving down to Philly and back after finding Escape Pod last week.(6 hour drive) So far, this is one of my favorites, but I'm robotically inclined, as far as Sci Fi stories go.   8/10

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MacArthurBug

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Reply #22 on: October 13, 2009, 06:30:33 PM
My Elder daughter just listned to this one. She LOVED the name- but then commented that she didn't feel like she got what she wanted after a great title like that. I still really liked this one. I like that we got a good conversation out of it :) More good titles please, if only to lead to discussions with my teenager that DON'T involve Doctor Who, boys, or boys that look like the Doctor.

Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.


DMBlackthorn

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Reply #23 on: January 21, 2010, 03:15:43 AM
I liked the darkness in this story... right on for the darkness...
I'm also a fan of eyeballs in story, song, and giant vats full of ooze and slime.  I'm glad that the solidarity of the workers in this story kept them from killing each other. . . .barely.



Unblinking

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Reply #24 on: April 21, 2010, 04:23:51 PM
And geez, when did Norm Sherman mind meld with Jack Nicholson? I've never noticed it before, but in this story, it felt like he was channeling Jack as a disgruntled cybernetic factory employee and it made me grin from ear to ear. Who wouldn't pay money to see that? Great reading, Norm.

I, for one, would not.  I have yet to see Nicholson in a movie that he didn't ruin.  I think he's highly overrated.  Luckily, I didn't connect Norm's reading to him while I was listening so I was still able to enjoy.  :)

Anyway, good story, that I really enjoyed.  Especially the image of the lines and lines of human-looking cyborgs that only move when you're not looking.  Creepy!  Nice ambiguity through most of it about who was making the alterations.  I suspected that Clementine was aware already, but hadn't suspected her self-modifications.  I think it's funny that they do a factory equivalent of a lumberjack log-roll to determine dominance.  :P

Even though it's kind of a robot-in-love story, the creepy eyeball floor and self-modifications made it something better.  And I find a cyborg-in-love much more plausible than robot-in-love, since a cyborg is re-using human parts, how can you expect it to NOT have some human traits even if you've tried to suppress them.