Escape Artists



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Author Topic: PC072: The Exit Sign  (Read 15368 times)


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Reply #20 on: October 12, 2009, 10:22:12 PM
One of the very few Podcastle episodes I couldn't finish.  Checking the feedback here, seems I made a good call on turning it off.


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Reply #21 on: October 20, 2009, 03:54:02 AM
Yeah, I'm afraid I listened to about 5 minutes before skipping it, something I rarely do. My apologies, but it was mainly the reading turned me off -- it seemed like it was a bit of a chore to the reader, which doesn't help.


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Reply #22 on: October 23, 2009, 06:17:42 PM
The only reason I got all the way through this was because I had dish gloves on and didn't want the hassle of removing them. What a dreadful story. "Upper class people are like this and lower class people are like this! Amirite?" Whoa. I felt bludgeoned by the message.

I love house stories - Secret Life, the part in Tad Williams' Otherland series. I love surrealism, romance. Just not this one.

Great intro and outro though!


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Reply #23 on: October 26, 2009, 03:27:38 PM
I thought I posted my thoughts on this one already, but I guess I didn't. I'm all for weird, surreal stories, but this was just too hard to follow. Probably would be better reading this one than listening to it. On the plus side, I got mentioned in the feedback section for "Daughter of Batu", so woo-hoo! It paid off to listen to the whole thing.

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Reply #24 on: November 04, 2009, 05:55:15 PM
I was unimpressed by this story.  The world as a building metaphor was already visited by a previous story "Secret Life".  The plot was predictable about 10 minutes into it.  The characters seemed one-dimensional and never really seem to develop for me.  The artificially constructed caste system of dirty perverts and clean polite-society seems contrived and hackneyed.  I also strongly object to the antiquated and victorian metaphor of equating sex to filth/corruption, perversion, sado-masichism, etc.  The author also seemed like she kept on preaching some sort of "let's all get along" or "we're all imperfect and yet perfect together" message.  Not that I don't mind the sentiment, but after the fifth or sixth time of having that same message being hammered down your throat, it gets a bit old.  Maybe I'm expecting too much, and maybe this is supposed to be a YA story, but I don't really subscribe to the idea that you have to dumb-down stories for younger readers.


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Reply #25 on: November 05, 2009, 05:52:34 PM
Most of my complaints have already been said, including:
-annoying second person
-too much telling
-relying on overused stereotypes
-The style of the story seemed to indicate it thought itself pretty important, which clashed with my apathy.
-It states that they can't cross between floors, and then they do.

In addition to that, I had extreme trouble believing that a world as this could ever exist anywhere.
-Where does their food come from?
-Where does their sewage go?
-Why don't the grenades burn the house down?  Where do they get grenades anyway?

They've been living here for at least 3 generations, probably much longer.  Living there that long without the slightest mention of the answer to these questions demotes it from story to allegory.  Not that there's anything wrong with allegory, and while allegories are interesting in philosophical discussion kind of way, the setting is so clearly artificial that the people must also be artificial.  Because of that, I don't care in the slightest what happens to them.

On top of that, some of the actions they took uniformly as a society struck me as terribly unrealistic.  The basement folk all cut off their legs because they were afraid the angels would reject them?  I can perhaps believe one or a few people doing that, though they'd have to be very mentally unstable folks.  But a whole society systematically doing this for generations?  I can't believe that.  Not even a single person says "Hmmm, maybe before maiming myself, I could walk upstairs and say hi."  On top of that, how does maiming make it any better?  "I'm afraid the angels will reject me, so I'm going to MAKE SURE they reject me because I'll never make it up there.  That'll teach them!"

I've said before (and I"ll say again) that I like a story that carries a message, but this is a message that carries a story.

I did listen all the way to the end, simply because some of the philosophical ideas were cool.


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Reply #26 on: November 05, 2009, 05:59:43 PM
There are a bunch of stories that take place with the conceit that the entire world is a building with no outside. I call them house stories. I admit to an unreasonable love for the genre. My favorite example is Tad Williams -- one of the worlds in his Otherworld series takes place in an enormous house with shifting architecture where tribes of men have grown and fallen.

I think this story is one of that genre, which is why I personally didn't have visualization trouble -- I had a framework to put the prose into. But maybe other people were seeing something different?

I also really loved the house world in Otherland, and that setting did cross my mind when I heard this story but that setting was quite different.
-Because it's a computer simulation, food and sewage do not need to be incorporated into the program.
-Because most of the citizens of that world were computer programs, irrationality on their part does not bother me.  If the citizens of that world all chopped their logs off, I would see it as the outcome of a logic error in the AI's programming, not unbelievable characters.
-Because of the simulation backdrop, the setting doesn't have to make any logical sense.  That's one of the greatest things about
that series--Tad chose a setting that allowed him to take metaphors and symbols and make them real in a way that allows real characters to exist in ridiculous settings.


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Reply #27 on: November 05, 2009, 06:46:44 PM
And, regarding the "World as a House" concept:  in this case, the entire world is clearly not contained within the house or they wouldn't know of Larry Flint and Dostoyevsky and whoever else they mentioned.  Those people didn't grow up in the house, and if they did their lives would've been different and would not have produced the same works.  By anchoring this world to the real world, it makes it clear to me that basic concerns should apply (such as food and sewage) and so the fact that they don't apply just makes this world weaker.

Getting off the soap box now.  :)