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Author Topic: EP217: The Kindness of Strangers  (Read 23647 times)

WBB46

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Reply #25 on: September 26, 2009, 10:10:16 PM
A successful dystopian story line with a self-centered Jenny as main protagonist -- but her transformation was well crafted. The most abidingly irritating problem with the narrator was her mispronunciation of world city place names -- I know this is rarely a problem for US residents, but for the rest of the world it's a real turn-off.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2009, 10:12:34 PM by WBB46 »



Kate_Baker

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Reply #26 on: September 26, 2009, 10:59:42 PM
*smiles*

It's very interesting to come here after I've narrated (my second time now) and see what the "regulars" have to say. A sincere thanks to the people who were able to digest the reading and story as a whole and come out with an educated opinion.

I also completely understand about the complaints with the city names. The only thing I can offer is that I tried my best. I actually looked up pronunciation on some of them, but alas, this "American" probably did murder some of the inflections. It was also very hard to find audio pronunciations as well. Google searches and dictionary searches only yield so much. So my apologies to those who I may have offended.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2009, 11:07:22 PM by Kate_Baker »

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Portrait in Flesh

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Reply #27 on: September 26, 2009, 11:02:20 PM
I'm depressed enough in my own life; reading about Jenny's self-pitying was almost more than I could take right now.  It's like the end of the world paled to the end of her affair. 


"Boys from the city.  Not yet caught by the whirlwind of Progress.  Feed soda pop to the thirsty pigs." --The Beast of Yucca Flats


MacArthurBug

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Reply #28 on: September 27, 2009, 12:12:46 AM
There were parts of this story that were fantastic. I liked the ideas behind it. I even enjoyed Jennys selfishness. After all WE're all guilty of being selfish at least once. It's as if we stumbled into Jennys life at a REALLY selfish moment. My quibbles with the tale come in at it's dragging on in spots- the narrator didn't really play up the drama of a few points- though it was well enough read. This story would have been slightly better with a more dramatic voice perhaps.

Norm, man  I dig you, you seem like a realy cool guy. Here's hoping you ease in a little. I've gotta agree with the masses (and I LIKE listening to your odd banter). You came off more as creepy uncle then weird ham smelling teacher.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 01:47:00 AM by MacArthurBug »

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Bdoomed

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Reply #29 on: September 27, 2009, 12:35:32 AM
i totally forgot to say how much i loved the reading! :P

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


ajames

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Reply #30 on: September 27, 2009, 12:32:23 PM
Reading: very good

Story: I did enjoy the psychological elements - Jenny wasn't that sympathetic of a character but I was still engaged by her P.O.V. and the story. Nancy Kress has tackled some intriguing topics and either she and I disagree very strongly on some of them, or she is willing to present the views of her characters and how they impact the world around them without framing the story so that her own point of view is clearly the superior one. I would like to think it is the latter.

The alien plot-line, as others have noted, was very weak. Even assuming that the aliens got to our part of the world a bit too late to intervene with less drastic measures, and assuming that engaging with us prior to intervention would have caused more harm than good (world-wide panic?) or some such, disintegration of entire cities seems an incredibly inept way for such an advanced race to handle the situation. And the "experiment" at the end was very lame. Let's kill millions, perhaps billions of sentient beings, and THEN do some experiments about how they work together in groups.

Co-host: looking forward to hearing more from Norm.



Strawman

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Reply #31 on: September 27, 2009, 12:57:45 PM
http://gardenstreet.org/drabblecastarchive/Bbardles/files/Scifihigh.mp3

Norm's just trying to survive as a transfer student at Sci Fi High



caid

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Reply #32 on: September 27, 2009, 03:47:24 PM
All in all an enjoyable hour for me. I liked the story, better than 215 and 216, but less than 214, which I think was one of the better stories in a while on EP. Double tentacles up for Norm as co-host. I must say that while Steve Eley got me back into Sci-fi (my hat of to you Sir once again), the likes of Norm are keeping me here.



ILikeMostCheeses

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Reply #33 on: September 27, 2009, 06:36:32 PM
I thought it was a great story. I didn't compare it to anything; it's fantasy. The story had great pacing, a plausible back story (the affair) and a decent build up. I actually came here to say that this story, Boyfriend, and that long story about people having to wear masks a few episodes ago were brilliant!
And I think Norm is great, a very welcome addition to the Escape ARtists. Even Steve Ely himself said once that he greatly coveted Norm's Drabblecast show. Welcome, Norm, hope to hear you often!



ancawonka

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Reply #34 on: September 27, 2009, 08:30:25 PM
This story felt to me like Nancy Kress broke up with her boyfriend, and had to write a fantasy about aliens blowing up the world to feel better about it.  She created some really good characterizations about unpleasant people that didn't really leave me feeling like humanity has a future in this world. 




 



Praxis

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Reply #35 on: September 27, 2009, 10:04:21 PM
There was certainly a lot going on in this story.

Overall, though, was this about the (after) effects of a devastating alien attack and loss of lives and homes, or was it about why these things had happened.
So much of the story was focussed on characters trying to find a way to survive that I'd mostly say it was about that.  But then that ending with the pat message from the alien saying basically, 'We know best and this is necessary, you humans don't know how to live responsibly'

Really?  The 'best' option is not just to obliterate most of the human beings but also to completely remove/destroy pretty much all the cities, infrastructure, libraries, laboratories, precious and semi-precious metals, tools, calibration equipment, refined chemicals, books, hospitals for pete's sake, observatories, plumbing, water and waste refineries and processing plants, contact lenses, pacemakers,...........

But at least there are less people now.  Granted they have naff all to help them survive (apart from creepy hologram robots offering breakfast) but, hey ho, we will thank the aliens in the future apparently.

I honestly didn't buy it (the message) at all and think the story would have been more enjoyable and provoking if the reasons had been left for the reader/listener to imagine.
The only I bought less than the idea that this really could be an informed, evolved way for a species to act towards us was the possibility that the remnants of the human race would ever be able to forgive them, let alone accept that this was The Solution, let alone actually thank the alien mass murderers.

Maybe I missed something.

Oh, and the reading was very good, too.  Shame about the story but good reading.



kool420deathstar

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Reply #36 on: September 28, 2009, 01:35:59 AM
This new guy does really good intros, Steve Ealy is a really cool guy, from what I've heard of him but this new guy is awesome, sick, twisted, and makes me feel like I've come home again to escape pod.

Nancy Cress and others keep cranking them out! Its discouraging for me as a writer who has complested nothing but so very exciting to find another great story bu Cress and her contemporaries. keep it up guys we love you!



TripleAught

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Reply #37 on: September 28, 2009, 03:38:39 AM
I just finished listening to this story and my take is similar to what's already been said.

I thought that the characterization of Jenny was good, unabashed in the portrayal of her self-absorbency. Focused on her affair rather than the larger chaos happening around her.

I enjoyed the story right up until the ending. The motivations for the aliens seem muddled. At once claiming to be benevolent and at the same time indifferent. The aliens said they were doing this for the good of humankind and that the race would thank them in a few generations. But I didn't get the sense that they would care about gratitude in four generations.



Ace Cook

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Reply #38 on: September 28, 2009, 08:58:00 AM
I've been enjoying Escape Pod for a while now but the recent story with the daily changing of the masks has really got me hooked. 'Boyfriend' was a little muddled but a good premise and quite enjoyable but this episode really felt like Manhattan Transfer as rewritten by an emo 16 year old.

It started off great and I loved the reading (didn't mind the mispronunciation of the place names and I actually did think while listening that finding out that kind of thing would be pretty difficult) but it just seemed to have no direction, and I didn't feel that the behaviour of the people within the camp was as diverse as it probably would have been in real life.

As for other points brought up here : I commented on Norm elsewhere.  ;)



KenK

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Reply #39 on: September 28, 2009, 01:51:07 PM
Sheesh. If the intros and outros bother people so much they can use the arrow buttons on the player to buzz past them. I do it all the time. (At EP and other sites too btw.) Seems like an easy work around to me. To me the main issue is the story and the presentation.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 04:42:31 PM by KenK »



Doom xombie

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Reply #40 on: September 28, 2009, 04:38:41 PM
Separate thread for The Norm Controversy?
Oh and norm I have an idea. Make a sep. account for you opinions BUT don't tell anyone that its your account. Sure someone might look at ip addresses or whatever but thats their nosy problem.


Disliked the characters too much to enjoy the story
« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 04:45:28 PM by Doom xombie »

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Swamp

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Reply #41 on: September 28, 2009, 04:47:30 PM
Separate thread for The Norm Controversy?

Already made it, here.  Some people didn't take the hint.

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Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


alllie

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Reply #42 on: September 28, 2009, 05:58:16 PM
Are people nicer in small groups? Anyone who thinks that never lived in a small town. Are they more cooperative in small groups? Well, they tend to know their neighbors and follow the rituals of their culture. In the city those that don't conform can lose themselves in the crowds of people but in small groups those that don't conform will be ostracized or attacked.



El Barto

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Reply #43 on: September 28, 2009, 05:59:15 PM
Nancy's stories are hit or miss for me.  I liked the Erdmann Nexus and Act One but felt the opposite about Unintended Behavior, Endgame, and Safeguard.  

This one was right in the middle for me because I loved the concept but didn't like the execution.  In particular I was perplexed that no one was questioning what happened to the cities.  My first thought was that the aliens were transporting cities off the Earth one at a time, and that everyone was fine.   Shooting a weapon at an alien that just made a city disappear seems reckless to say the least.

And having cell phones work in the aftermath was beyond ridiculous.  If you take out a dozen buildings across the U.S. the whole network will go down.

One thing this story did do well was get me thinking about how we are collectively doing so far as a species, and whether we are ready for space travel or meeting another species.  My answer to both questions is "hell no."  I give us a D+ overall as a species and I worry that things are going to get worse for many people before we (hopefully) get our shit together and start exploring out there.



« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 06:15:38 PM by El Barto »



KenK

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Reply #44 on: September 28, 2009, 06:28:09 PM
Are people nicer in small groups? Anyone who thinks that never lived in a small town. Are they more cooperative in small groups? Well, they tend to know their neighbors and follow the rituals of their culture. In the city those that don't conform can lose themselves in the crowds of people but in small groups those that don't conform will be ostracized or attacked.


I've lived in some smaller American cities Seattle (500k) and Ann Arbor (130k) and I've found that  people are people (good, bad and indifferent) where ever they happen to be. And because they do happen to "know each others business" more than in large cities they're less likely to see opponents as the dreaded "other". The aggregate of people in Kress' story resemble a refugee camp more than an intentional community.



Gia

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Reply #45 on: September 29, 2009, 12:56:14 AM
Norm smells like Ham? All my dreams have come true!

I had two thoughts when the alien explained how they killed billions of people to save us from global warming without bothering to tell us. The first was "Kill it, Jenny. Kill it! . . . and Eric. Kill the alien and Eric." Seriously, the story would have been just fine, if not better, without Eric. My second thought was "How come advanced races never do anything useful?" They have vast amounts of knowledge and yet they can't help us grow more food and build space colonies. God forbid they take a few years out of their busy, planet-destroying schedules. It's not just this story. It's every story with advanced aliens. They either want to overtly destroy us or they're so darn superior that they need to save us in a way that is totally contrary to what everybody wants. As human beings have gotten more advanced, in many places there has been a push to respect other cultures, but aliens seem to be incapable of doing this. In Star Trek the prime directive existed so that Kirk could ignore it. In the rest of fiction, there is no prime directive and aliens just meddle as they please.



monkeystuff

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Reply #46 on: September 29, 2009, 04:27:19 AM
Shooting a weapon at an alien that just made a city disappear seems reckless to say the least

I just had to quote you, I don't think I could have said it better myself.


Also, just a thought about the aliens... What if they were VERY old, or time passed differently for them, and they just don't see humans as all that significant, maybe that could be behind some of the reasoning of thinking that its a good idea to wipe out so many people.  I'm not justifying their actions, just using my imagination to try to figure out why such an intelligent race (assuming they are intelligent) would commit mass genocide.  Maybe the i'm just looking too deep into the plot flaws of this story...  /shrug

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alllie

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Reply #47 on: September 29, 2009, 12:02:57 PM
Seems to me if the aliens were that advanced they could just have sterilized 90% of everyone without killing them.



Doom xombie

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Reply #48 on: September 29, 2009, 02:04:45 PM
Seems to me if the aliens were that advanced they could just have sterilized 90% of everyone without killing them.

How would that help?

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stePH

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Reply #49 on: September 29, 2009, 02:10:49 PM
Seems to me if the aliens were that advanced they could just have sterilized 90% of everyone without killing them.

How would that help?
Fewer people born means fewer consuming resources.  Then as the older ones die off, we get the much-needed reduction in population.

I'm not sure if that's the reason the "Combine" suppressed human reproduction in the backstory to Half-Life 2- ... but I can't figure out what the frak is going on in that game anyway.  I just pushed through it until I got to the end.

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