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Author Topic: EP210: The Hastillan Weed  (Read 16288 times)

Russell Nash

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on: August 06, 2009, 08:38:30 PM
EP210: The Hastillan Weed

By Ian Creasey.
Read by MarBelle.
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction (February 2006).

“Since we have so many new faces,” I said to the half-dozen volunteers, “I’ll start with a tools talk. Safety points for the spade — the most important is that when you’re digging, you push with the ball of your foot.”

I picked up a spade from the pile, and demonstrated by digging up a bluebell growing by the hedge. From the large bells all round the stem, I knew it was a Spanish bluebell, a garden escape that if left unchecked would hybridise with the natives. Too late now, though. You can tell the British bluebell because the flowers are smaller, deeper blue, and they’re usually on one side of the stem, so the plant droops under their weight as if bowing down before its foreign conqueror. There’s hardly a wood left in England where you’ll see only native bluebells.

“Or you can use your heel on the spade.” I heaved the invader out of the earth and tossed it aside, knowing it would safely rot. “But you should never press down with the middle of your foot. The bones in the arch are delicate, and you can injure yourself.”


Rated PG for plants with many uses.



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Praxis

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Reply #1 on: August 07, 2009, 11:25:18 PM
I *think* I liked this one.

It felt like the opening chapter to a bigger story, we had had a setting and history established and motivations for the characters, and then the story ended.

Interesting premise.  Could we petition (*cough* spam mail) the author to make this into a bigger story?



lhoward

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Reply #2 on: August 08, 2009, 12:05:11 AM
I enjoyed this story.  It was small in a very cozy way.  I liked how it showed how the species developed a relationship in light of what seems to be a fairly mundane backdrop.



thomasowenm

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Reply #3 on: August 08, 2009, 02:34:39 AM
Too much of a propaganda piece for me.  Drugs are bad, Mmm-Kay.  Specieism is bad.  Non-native plants are bad.  Heck even reporters are bad too. Way too preachy.  Cautionary tales are fine with me but only when the issues they are cautioning against are discrete and not being shouted. 

I did like however, the concept of an invasive alien specie, but  it seems that if the governments of the world thought it was such a disaster, they would have more than two park ranger hacks organizing a band of volunteers to repair this eco mess.  The only reason I say this is because these are not Terran plants and such have a direct devestating effect on the planet.



stePH

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Reply #4 on: August 08, 2009, 02:43:29 PM
I had a problem with the reading.  With the pace of the reading combined with the reader not differentiating between characters, it was not always clear just who was speaking in a conversation (like, when one character finished speaking and another began.)

... it seems that if the governments of the world thought it was such a disaster, they would have more than two park ranger hacks organizing a band of volunteers to repair this eco mess.  The only reason I say this is because these are not Terran plants and such have a direct devestating effect on the planet.
One would think so.

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Praxis

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Reply #5 on: August 08, 2009, 10:41:45 PM
I had a problem with the reading.  With the pace of the reading combined with the reader not differentiating between characters, it was not always clear just who was speaking in a conversation (like, when one character finished speaking and another began.)

There was one point where the main character was remonstrating with the volunteer being sent 'back' and then also talking to the journalist and some narration.....I admit I lost track a bit.



kibitzer

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Reply #6 on: August 09, 2009, 02:15:47 AM
For mine, the reading was all too monotone -- a bit like the alien's translator. The guy's voice is fine but almost completely undifferentiated for this type of reading.

Interesting story.


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Reply #7 on: August 09, 2009, 04:53:45 AM
I enjoyed this one, but I also wished that we'd seen more of this world.  I suppose that's a compliment - the little bit of background and context that we got was interesting enough that I wanted more.

I liked how the alien turned out to be basically just a bored teenager.  I was waiting for a cliched throwaway line about how she was actually 400 Earth years old, but fortunately it never came.

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deflective

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Reply #8 on: August 09, 2009, 08:05:54 AM
there were interesting parts to this one, mostly i was thinking about our own invasive species.

in victoria, the christmas hill nature sanctuary has the largest natural garry oak grove in canada.  most groves are infested with european broom which took over a couple hundred years ago when it was imported for ornamental gardens.  broom is pretty tenacious here, any dry & clear land is rapidly taken over by the shrubs which can grow over two meters tall.

the hill is kept clear by spending a lot of time pulling broom every year.  luckily, a special tool has been developed for this and most people can help despite broom's deep roots.  any hours that the park can't cover with volunteers they fill with people serving community service.

just a thought, for when the alien invasion comes.



DKT

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Reply #9 on: August 10, 2009, 03:28:59 PM
Ooooooo...an Ian Creasey read by MarBelle!

That was exciting. And quaint. Not really what I expected from the author (or the reader), although that's not a criticism of the story or the narration. In fact, I'd say it's a compliment. I thought it was very well done and enjoyed listening to it. I particularly liked how all the little twists on technology was sprinkled through the story.

When I saw "weed" in the title, I thought "Aha - a drug story." Then it was a sweet gardening story. Then the drugs came.


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Reply #10 on: August 10, 2009, 10:11:23 PM
This story was very on home turf for me as a nature-loving plant expert well familiar with the higher places of Northern England. Alien and invasive plants really are a problem up here like the Bracken Fern with its carcinogenic spores and the almost unstoppable Japanese Knotweed so reminiscent of Aku from the sci-fi cartoon series Samurai Jack. Anyway, I liked it very much as its heart was definately in the right place although I think I would have a liked a little more description of the nice alien lassie beyond references to her size and snout. Too preachy? Na. Allowances were made for even the more distasteful characters' positions.




Reply #11 on: August 11, 2009, 04:36:02 AM
This was the first EP story in a long time to make me stop and finish in the driveway. The reading had problems (discussed in other threads) but the story was simple, straightforward and very good. No cliche Alien / Human love story. No Alien turns out to be a secret agent. What you see is what you get. That is very nice for a change.



Praxis

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Reply #12 on: August 11, 2009, 09:00:23 PM
and the almost unstoppable Japanese Knotweed

just wait till the UK is warm enough for the seeds to be able to spread on their own.  Then we may as well assimilate and become human-knotweed acolytes.

Having spent more than a few summers "clearing" knotweed (no, it doesn't work), this story reminded me of that evil invader plant, too.



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Reply #13 on: August 11, 2009, 10:06:37 PM
I could really relate to this piece - if only because I own a bit of forest land in Washington state, and twice a year I have a bunch of friends come over and pull out the alien invasive blackberries.  So I know just what it's like trying to inspire a bunch of volunteer computer jockeys to do hard labor.  And just how rewarding such work can be. 

Never actually had an alien show up in my crew though.  I don't think.  It's hard to be sure, with my friends...



Listener

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Reply #14 on: August 12, 2009, 12:37:19 PM
Everything I wanted to say has been said: undifferentiated voices but good narration, a bit propaganda-y, kudos for the alien not being 400 earth years old but a Hastilian teenager.

Because I just recently heard this Ian Creasey story (http://dunesteef.com/2009/07/22/page-4-the-edge-of-the-map-by-ian-creasey/), I immediately keyed on the re-use of the "channel" names and the character of Susanna Monroe. I think I may have gotten more out of the world because I knew more about what the humans were like as a result. I wonder if the author reuses these (for lack of a better term) memes throughout his stories for that reason (to interconnect them).

Overall not bad.

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izzardfan

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Reply #15 on: August 16, 2009, 11:55:21 PM
Because I just recently heard this Ian Creasey story (http://dunesteef.com/2009/07/22/page-4-the-edge-of-the-map-by-ian-creasey/), I immediately keyed on the re-use of the "channel" names and the character of Susanna Monroe. I think I may have gotten more out of the world because I knew more about what the humans were like as a result. I wonder if the author reuses these (for lack of a better term) memes throughout his stories for that reason (to interconnect them).

According to the author's web page for this story...

Quote
This story was my first sale to Asimov's Science Fiction, and hence constituted a significant breakthrough in my career.
[...]
Appropriately for a story with an environmental theme, some background elements in "The Hastillan Weed" were later recycled elsewhere.  In particular, the journalist Susanna Munro, a minor character in this story, subsequently became the protagonist of a rather different tale in "The Edge of the Map", which was my next Asimov's appearance.




Erenna

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Reply #16 on: August 21, 2009, 10:32:33 PM
I absolutely loved this story.  Very understated and realistic, especially because I just listened to it on my (brand new! :) ipod while hacking back the Himalayan blackberries in our back field.  Unfortunately there is no hope of eradication with this stuff but I can slow the takeover slightly.  But even more than the environmental theme, I identified with the theme of loneliness that was beautifully portrayed.



Cerebrilith

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Reply #17 on: August 22, 2009, 09:48:22 AM
I liked this story.  I enjoyed the way that the aliens came in to the U.K. and started screwing things up in many of the same ways that the British did with their colonies.



stePH

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Reply #18 on: August 22, 2009, 02:45:23 PM
I absolutely loved this story.  Very understated and realistic, especially because I just listened to it on my (brand new! :) ipod while hacking back the Himalayan blackberries in our back field.  Unfortunately there is no hope of eradication with this stuff but I can slow the takeover slightly. 

I've done battle with ivy, blackberry, and Oregon grape.  The ivy was the worst; it had been allowed to grow unchecked for a long time and had actually penetrated inside my father's house (the downstairs basement/garage).

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wakela

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Reply #19 on: August 24, 2009, 08:01:21 AM
Usually my preach-o-meter is very sensitive, but this is one of the few stories where I felt that the the characters were preaching, not the author (though I'm sure the author holds similar opinions).   

I liked it how the narator had to alternate between being enraged with the alien and then defending her against the bigots.  His and the alien's characters were pretty realistic, though the others were cutouts.



Russell Nash

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Reply #20 on: August 24, 2009, 08:21:59 AM
I absolutely loved this story.  Very understated and realistic, especially because I just listened to it on my (brand new! :) ipod while hacking back the Himalayan blackberries in our back field.  Unfortunately there is no hope of eradication with this stuff but I can slow the takeover slightly. 

I've done battle with ivy, blackberry, and Oregon grape.  The ivy was the worst; it had been allowed to grow unchecked for a long time and had actually penetrated inside my father's house (the downstairs basement/garage).

I started the war against bamboo last year.  It just keeps coming back.



JDHarper

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Reply #21 on: August 28, 2009, 04:19:22 AM
I loved this one. I want to see sequels exploring the alien character, whose name I'm not sure how to spell. Very well done.



stePH

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Reply #22 on: August 29, 2009, 02:39:20 PM
I've done battle with ivy, blackberry, and Oregon grape.  The ivy was the worst; it had been allowed to grow unchecked for a long time and had actually penetrated inside my father's house (the downstairs basement/garage).

I started the war against bamboo last year.  It just keeps coming back.
Bamboo!  How could I forget the bamboo?  It's my most recent foe; it grows in my front yard even now!  >:(

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Russell Nash

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Reply #23 on: August 30, 2009, 05:50:02 PM
I've done battle with ivy, blackberry, and Oregon grape.  The ivy was the worst; it had been allowed to grow unchecked for a long time and had actually penetrated inside my father's house (the downstairs basement/garage).

I started the war against bamboo last year.  It just keeps coming back.
Bamboo!  How could I forget the bamboo?  It's my most recent foe; it grows in my front yard even now!  >:(

'Tis evil.



kibitzer

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Reply #24 on: August 31, 2009, 03:18:08 AM
Tsk. You people and your bamboo. Simple: import a panda.