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Author Topic: EP212: Skinhorse Goes to Mars  (Read 14104 times)

Russell Nash

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on: August 20, 2009, 10:04:15 PM
EP212: Skinhorse Goes to Mars

By Jay Lake.
Read by Mike Bori.

When I met Skinhorse, my first thought was old. Which was weird. Nobody gets old these days. We all die young, some of us after living a long time, if we’re lucky.

He was in Piet’s Number Seven, a bar-cum-caravanserai in an illegal orbit trailing far enough behind Vesta to be ignorable. Piet’s had been instantiated in an old volatiles bladder that had done the Jovian run a few too many times before falling into the surplus circuit. You could store entire cities in Piet’s cubage, which made for a somewhat attenuated bar experience. Plus the place had one of those gravity cans — yes, those gravity cans — which meant your drink stayed stuck down long as you were near a Higgs carpet.

So there I was annoying myself with three perfectly disrespectable rock jocks, each of us out to fleece the others, when this cadaver starts to stand over me. We’re all forever young or forever dead, but this armstrong looked like he’d shaved about half a cent too deep across his whole body, then restored his dermis with spray-on thermal insulation.


Rated R for strong language, strong violence, and world-spanning tumors.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: August 21, 2009, 08:07:46 AM by Russell Nash »



Zathras

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Reply #1 on: August 20, 2009, 10:51:06 PM
Great story!  The reading was spot on for this story. 

Again, poker shows up.......



the_true_morg

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Reply #2 on: August 21, 2009, 03:25:26 AM
As i listened i kept hearing jargon that was easy to grasp but did not pull brain power away from story.

###Possible Spoiler###

Many stories get so deep in explaining Sci-fi that you have to get out scratch paper, work some figures, lookup some formula and Latin root words. (finding it was made up or from greek)  then the story needs a 10 min rewind to catch up for what has happened while i was playing with numbers or doing a dictionary dash.

Skinhorse used contemporary ideas (Global warming, Genetics, Space travel) and blended them with a almost Western novella sencibilities. this was also filled with a horror of war similar to the Vietnam era  destruction of nature and then zombie clones. with a little tweaking it could have been on Pseudopod. (by tweaking i mean evil laughter at the end) 

It felt like it might be a Ben Bova story, then you had the feeling someone was going to get strung up for something they did. The Sci-fi tech felt like that Heinlein would have been writing if on the current cutting edge of tech. (no slide rulers and checking physics to enter into a computer) There was this under current of eco-consciousness that did not get preachy but tells it straight by saying "we messed up, we have to live with it."

I loved this story and would love to read a entire novel of this world with the detail taken on the small things and the big things figuring themselves out.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2009, 03:57:04 AM by the_true_morg »

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lhoward

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Reply #3 on: August 21, 2009, 02:23:20 PM
I really enjoyed this story.   The story was solid and the narration was spot on for the character.

From the beginning I got the feeling that it was inspired by Firefly - partly the speech patterns of the characters, but more specifically the setting.   I think the author wanted to explore the "Earth was used up" premise - a part of the history of that 'verse.  When the author later used the line "leaf on the wind" there was no doubt left in my mind where his inspiration came from...

.... or maybe I'm just an obsessed Browncoat who sees Firefly everywhere... but I can't think of why anyone would accuse me of that.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2009, 02:26:22 PM by lhoward »



Schreiber

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Reply #4 on: August 21, 2009, 03:19:08 PM
Firefly.  Star Wars.  One way or another, a roguish card-playing spaceship captain gets a dangerous job offer from a mysterious stranger.

There is a lot about this story that is original and engaging, but not every space story needs a Han Solo.  This one really didn't.



KenK

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Reply #5 on: August 23, 2009, 02:31:56 AM
It really is surprising how much good sci-fi seems to emulate good Westerns and even in some cases actual Western history. Many of the original "cowboys" that went West in the 1870's after the Civil War were displaced rootless Confederate war veterans who regretted a lost war, witnessed the atrocities, and came away with a huge chip on their shoulder and seriously hating the victorious  government and had a hard time putting their lives back on track afterward. Just like the protagonist in Skinhorse. I liked it just like I do Westerns.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2009, 02:54:47 PM by KenK »



kibitzer

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Reply #6 on: August 23, 2009, 04:42:22 AM
I liked this one -- good story, great reading. Was it a Western? Sure. Was it really sci-fi? Who cares? Entertaining.

Also: Awesome outro Al(isdair)! Quite stirring. And please, please: a Worlds of Tomorrow on Buckaroo Banzai would be fantastic.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2009, 06:01:54 AM by kibitzer »



izzardfan

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Reply #7 on: August 23, 2009, 06:33:30 AM
And please, please: a Worlds of Tomorrow on Buckaroo Banzai would be fantastic.

I agree!  It's one of my favorite movies!



Cerebrilith

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Reply #8 on: August 23, 2009, 08:30:51 AM
This story got better as it went on.  I found the excess of jargon in the beginning to be distracting.



Boggled Coriander

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Reply #9 on: August 23, 2009, 09:23:35 AM
I liked this one.  Jay Lake is a name I've been vaguely aware of for a while, but I never actually came across his work before now.  I must add him to my "seriously check out" list.

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stePH

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Reply #10 on: August 23, 2009, 05:19:44 PM
And please, please: a Worlds of Tomorrow on Buckaroo Banzai would be fantastic.

I agree!  It's one of my favorite movies!


I dunno.  The watermelon thing was left hanging.

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MacArthurBug

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Reply #11 on: August 23, 2009, 05:38:37 PM
I liked the pacing and world building of this story- very well put together. I liked the end.

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.


Somedude127

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Reply #12 on: August 24, 2009, 06:39:09 AM
I want the back story for this universe!  There's so much good stuff here that I feel a bit cheated that I don't get to know more.



Ocicat

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Reply #13 on: August 24, 2009, 09:09:50 PM
I liked it, but I think I need to listen again when I can pay closer attention.  While a lot of the jargon was very accessible, I missed how there came to be tons of copies of the protagonist.  The first time he mentioned that the original of him might still be down there, I didn't get why.  Never caught further explanation.  Not sure how Skinhorse's death was supposed to help any either.

But the mood was very nice, and I enjoyed it quite a lot despite my confusion!



stePH

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Reply #14 on: August 24, 2009, 11:00:06 PM
Not sure how Skinhorse's death was supposed to help any either.

Quantum Inseparability Principle?  His cells and the cells on Venus linked non-locally?  I dunno.

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KenK

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Reply #15 on: August 25, 2009, 01:04:52 AM
Yeah I hear you stePH and Ocicat. I had to listen to it three times before I felt confident enough to say anything about it. But then again it's all about the story not how accurate the science is, eh? :D



Russell Nash

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Reply #16 on: August 25, 2009, 11:53:41 AM
I loved it and the reading made it even better.  More Mike Bori.

Soldiers not being able to re-integrate into society is as old as warfare.  This is what leads to the warrior as explorer trope.  They can't handle being around a lot of people so they take off.  It didn't begin with the Civil War. 

I think the parallels between that and this character are quite stretched.  This guy seemed to have a case of PTSD, but was functioning in society.



stePH

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Reply #17 on: August 25, 2009, 01:46:09 PM
This guy seemed to have a case of PTSD, but was functioning in society.
... such as it was.

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Russell Nash

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Reply #18 on: August 25, 2009, 02:05:09 PM
This guy seemed to have a case of PTSD, but was functioning in society.
... such as it was.

I was wondering if I should comment on that, but I thought it would muddle the statement.



KenK

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Reply #19 on: August 25, 2009, 02:54:15 PM
I don't remember any stories about Roman Legionnaires or Spartan hoplites becoming aimless dysfunctional drifters after losing a war. Can you recommend some?



Ocicat

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Reply #20 on: August 25, 2009, 05:54:07 PM
I don't remember any stories about Roman Legionnaires or Spartan hoplites becoming aimless dysfunctional drifters after losing a war. Can you recommend some?


The Odyssey.  You don't really believe that Odysseus got lost, do you?  He was really just taking a big joy ride around the Mediterranean because he couldn't deal with the thought of going back to his wife after sacking Troy...



deflective

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Reply #21 on: August 25, 2009, 06:30:20 PM
the jargon in this was well done, an interesting combination of modern, techie and western.


a Worlds of Tomorrow on Buckaroo Banzai would be fantastic.

i've been waiting for it for years.  i actually saw the movie because of that spoken word.



KenK

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Reply #22 on: August 25, 2009, 07:26:58 PM
I don't remember any stories about Roman Legionnaires or Spartan hoplites becoming aimless dysfunctional drifters after losing a war. Can you recommend some?


The Odyssey.  You don't really believe that Odysseus got lost, do you?  He was really just taking a big joy ride around the Mediterranean because he couldn't deal with the thought of going back to his wife after sacking Troy...

Ah...no Odysseus' side were the victors in that one. To get the proper amount of alienation and nihilism for a war story trope like this to work you have to be the loser. Could Firefly have been written the way it was if Mal & the brown coats had been winners? Or if the Jedi hadn't been betrayed and exterminated by the emperor?  WW2 vets don't get portrayed like this in novels and stories very much because they won. Viet Nam vets are portrayed almost exclusively as misfits because they lost, their sacrifice was for nothing and they have to live with that and many, for whatever reason, just can't.

PTSD on the other hand is a medical issue, not a trope. These vets are injured just as much as an amputee just in different way. My English teacher in high school would some times hide under his desk if a loud unexpected noise occurred. He'd go catatonic or shake uncontrollably. He was a West Point grad too, and ruined for life. Kinda like John McCain only worse.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2009, 07:53:16 PM by KenK »



thomasowenm

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Reply #23 on: August 25, 2009, 08:44:52 PM
I liked this story up until the end with the electric zombies or whatever they were.  I was too confused with that and the corrolation with Venus's cancer.  Also was I mistaken or was Mars in this story turned into a gas giant somehow?  I am not sure about that point.

Overall I give it a B.



Russell Nash

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Reply #24 on: August 25, 2009, 09:01:24 PM
I liked this story up until the end with the electric zombies or whatever they were.  I was too confused with that and the corrolation with Venus's cancer.  Also was I mistaken or was Mars in this story turned into a gas giant somehow?  I am not sure about that point.

Overall I give it a B.

The gas giant stuff was referring to life around Jupiter.  It seems that humans colonized a couple of the moons and they are able to get diamond-like stuff from Jupiter.

To get the proper amount of alienation and nihilism for a war story trope like this to work you have to be the loser. Could Firefly have been written the way it was if Mal & the brown coats had been winners? Or if the Jedi hadn't been betrayed and exterminated by the emperor? 

I was talking about history.  The frontier/countryside/wilderness has always been a place where ex-soldiers have gone.  Wherever they can remove themselves from the majority of society.  Just because nobody wrote a story about it doesn't mean it wasn't real.