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Voting has started for the Podcastle Flash Fiction contest. Anyone who has made at least one post should be able to see the stories down in the Arcade.

New groups are posted every two days through the end of April.

Author Topic: EP218: Ode To Katan Amano  (Read 25061 times)

Heradel

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on: October 01, 2009, 12:52:29 PM
EP218: Ode To Katan Amano

by Caitlin R. Kiernan
narrated by Kim the Comic Book Goddess

No one hears when I ease the heavy steel door shut behind me. All the ears in the darkened workshop, all those hundreds and hundreds of ears, but still no one hears a thing. And I stand there for a while, as unmoving as they, not exactly frightened and not exactly uncertain if I should see this through — I think I stand there in reverence. I be-lieve that’s the word that people use for what I feel in that moment, standing there alone, alone with that assembled crowd.

Rated X for violence and strong sexual situations.  As Steve says in the intro, this one isn’t for the kids.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: October 01, 2009, 09:22:55 PM by Heradel »

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KenK

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Reply #1 on: October 01, 2009, 01:48:03 PM
Creepy. Hated it. Can't say anything good about this story at all other than the narration was good.



Joaquin Escudero Jr

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Reply #2 on: October 01, 2009, 02:18:39 PM
Oy, holy shite! I'd never thought that listening to a story here on EP would leave a worst taste in my mouth then the morning I after I spoke my tobacco pipe, but here with this story I was proven wrong. Let me first say that the narration was superb and if I wasn't already married I'd fawn over the lovely comic book goddess with all the power that a geek could, which as we all know from Sci-fi and Fantasy and anime other such fandoms is great.

Now back to the story, I do have to admit that I've read and written my fair share of erotica over the years and don't find anything wrong with the notion of erotica and sex in a sci-fi story, even androids have needs. But it seemed to me that the only real novelty of this story was that it was the wanton sexual obsessions of an android and her owner. While that would have been a very compelling aspect of the story I don't think that it should be the main focus of one.


During the entire time that I was listening to the piece I kept waiting for a story to start and I was sadly disappointed by the end of it.

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MacArthurBug

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Reply #3 on: October 01, 2009, 08:57:12 PM
Meh-ish. Didn't hate it, it just didn't "do it for me"

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deflective

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Reply #4 on: October 01, 2009, 09:16:52 PM
the link to Caitlin's site is broken.  it was was probably supposed to be here, or maybe her blog.

i only listened with half an ear so i don't have much to say about the story.  it was enough to know it wasn't really my thing.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/PQvpCqPmuec" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/PQvpCqPmuec</a>
when Steve started talking about obvious closing music after a story about a dresden blue doll i was totally expecting the dresden dolls.



Heradel

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Reply #5 on: October 01, 2009, 09:28:13 PM
the link to Caitlin's site is broken.  it was was probably supposed to be here, or maybe her blog.

Fixed, sorry about that folks.

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Swamp

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Reply #6 on: October 01, 2009, 10:38:51 PM
Even though I didn't listen to this story, I'm glad that EP provides a variety of stories each week.

Regarding creepy dolls, every since I watch Mirrormask, I can't get this scene out of my head:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz8-7JsFD_g

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Darwinist

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Reply #7 on: October 02, 2009, 01:31:48 AM
Probably one of my least favorite EP's.   I usually don't mind adult themes in SF but the last thing I thought I'd hear about when I tapped in to EP was about dildo sex.  Give me a break. 

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


monkeystuff

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Reply #8 on: October 02, 2009, 03:47:45 AM
this story left me with the feeling of...  meh

if it wasn't for the song at the end about the creepy dolls i won't have enjoyed this episode.   but the creepy doll song was very fitting

i liked the song more then the story

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Kaa

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Reply #9 on: October 02, 2009, 05:27:27 AM
I suppose it was inevitable. After heaping praise on Escape Pod last week for tapping into my psyche and running a string of stories that really "hit" with me, I had to jinx it.

Interestingly enough, I also didn't like the story over on Podcastle, and both that one and this one used a lot of second person. That was a big part of what killed this one for me. Addressing the reader as "you" is something you have to be careful with, especially when "you" is described as doing something very unlike the majority of the readers. Personally, it tossed me out of the story when "you" lit a cigarette, which is something this particular "you" would never, ever do. Oh, yeah, and torture, too. And then after that I couldn't get back into it, and I was just glad when it was over, although I do remember saying, "Is that IT? It's ending THERE?" as I was turning left at a traffic light.

Oh, the narration was great. The story was just "meh" for me.

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Boggled Coriander

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Reply #10 on: October 02, 2009, 12:08:18 PM
I will admit that I liked the story more than anyone else who's commented so far.  Not sure if I can explain why, though, except that I found it haunting and not at all predictable.  The sex didn't turn me on, but I don't think it was supposed to.

What really creeped me out was that the protagonist was fully sentient, had free will, and was autonomous, but she had no rights and was at the mercy of her owner who could erase her memory at will.  And did she have any official duties besides sex?

By the way, since no one else has linked to it: some photos of Katan Amano's work can be found here.

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Katie

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Reply #11 on: October 02, 2009, 02:52:07 PM
I liked this one a lot. I thought the repetitions of rape cycles was interesting, and the sexbot learning about her own identity and propensities for violence first perpetrated on a doll as a trial run was haunting. I thought the last quote really tied this story together in a satisfying way.



Robin Sure

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Reply #12 on: October 02, 2009, 03:38:55 PM
More or less agree with all of the others above me. Nothing really seemed to happen in the story, and it felt more like a background chapter in some book or other.

My major gripe was the writing style. The flick around between you, me, she was disorientating, and the voice change that often accompanied threw me off, as I expected it to be a single person retelling.

And yeah, I was expecting Coin Operated Boy. Shame the better groups are typically the commercial ones.



Kaa

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Reply #13 on: October 02, 2009, 03:42:59 PM
Shame the better groups are typically the commercial ones.

Careful lest Jonathan Coulton fans find out where you live, for we are geek and we are legion! :)

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Kanasta

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Reply #14 on: October 02, 2009, 06:55:44 PM
I also found the writing style a bit disorientating, but I did enjoy the story. Sort of like a dark and pervy Mike Resnick tale! An interesting examination of the perpetuation of abuse, and the way the pyramid of power works, with each person abusing one weaker than themself -another version of the 'trickle-down effect'.



Prank Call of Cthulhu

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Reply #15 on: October 02, 2009, 10:55:21 PM
I wish I could get one of those memory-wipe thingies so I could forget I'd ever sat through this crummy story.



ajames

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Reply #16 on: October 03, 2009, 12:35:41 AM
I'm glad this is not the regular fare on EP, but I'm also glad I go to listen to this. I liked how the author hit me with my own preconceptions several times during the story. And while I found the switch to the second person a bit jarring as well, after the initial jolt it drew me more into the story more than I otherwise would have been. I didn't identify with the "you" in the story, but I found myself thinking more about how I might interact with the main character or her ?owner? if I were a character in the story. This is not an easy subject to write about, I wouldn't think, and most of the stories written on the subject focus on revenge or escape from the cycle of violence. This was an interesting take on the subject.



Old Man Parker

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Reply #17 on: October 03, 2009, 01:57:47 AM
That was so bad, I thought I was listening to "Pod Castle" for a second! The worst story EVER!

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Swamp

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Reply #18 on: October 03, 2009, 03:09:02 AM
That was so bad, I thought I was listening to "Pod Castle" for a second! The worst story EVER!

This is an Escape Pod thread.  To express concerns about Pod Castle, you should PM its editors.  Sorry you didn't like the story.

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Gia

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Reply #19 on: October 03, 2009, 03:27:13 AM
The worst story EVER!
Ouch. I didn't like the story either and I sometimes have a fairly large sensitivity blind spot, but even I think that that was harsh. Besides there are plenty of worse stories out there. Haven't you ever read a fanfic?

I now have an overwhelming urge to write the worst story ever. It will be horrible and fun at the same time and it will test the limits of my lolspeak fluency.



ComicBookGoddess

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Reply #20 on: October 03, 2009, 04:14:42 AM
What really creeped me out was that the protagonist was fully sentient, had free will, and was autonomous, but she had no rights and was at the mercy of her owner who could erase her memory at will.  And did she have any official duties besides sex?

Heh. I suppose it says something about me that I didn't even realize that this was an x-rated story as I was reading it.  I thought the sex and violence has a point - but maybe I just liked Grant Morrison's The Invisibles way too much.

In any case, as I read it for something like the 4th time, I realized that there's a deliberate echoing of personality here.  It's heavily implied that the owner has an unhealthy fascination with her sex doll, and the sex doll herself has an unhealthy fascination with a non-sex doll.  The aims are different, of course - the owner wants power over her doll, the doll wants to exercise the power of compassion - but that's due to different life experiences.  This implies that the owner had some control over the shaping of the sex doll's personality - whether by programming or simply as a parent would.  We don't know.

That's why it's important that we are hearing the inner monologue of the sex doll - this is her statement to her owner that she IS sentient, although in the eyes of the law - and likely in the eyes of her owner's psychologist - she is not fully sentient, but is only programmed to simulate sentience.

Of course, that idea is contradicted when the owner implies that she has to justify a memory wipe.  We don't know if she means that her sex doll has to show signs of malfunction just so that she doesn't have to pay for the wipe, or if the law offers some protection to the sex doll against unwarranted mind wipes.

In any case, there is meat here, amidst the cruelty and disturbing images. *shrug*



Tzi

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Reply #21 on: October 03, 2009, 06:53:25 PM
The story has no world-building, no clear "ta-da" resolution.  It forces the reader/listener to interpret the clues and the language in order to create a universe - in a way making the reader/listener a co-creator of the story - we add our own kinks and world view and experiences to make the story understandable to us.  Kiernan does not info-dump.  Her short fiction requires a lot from the reader - yes, she is not a comfortable writer at times, but her ability to create something that forces us to go beyond a surface story, is one of the reasons I seek out her work.  Sometimes I don't enjoy her writings, sometimes she disturbs me to such a degree that I am shaken for days, but she makes me think and confront my prejudices and preconceived ideas and question the ways in which I have been molded by my experiences.

This is a story about what makes one human.  Is it self-awareness, compassion, empathy?  The narrator had the ability to abuse a non-sentient doll, but chose to stop, to not continue the cycle of use/abuse.  Does this make her more human than her owner?  I think it does.




600south

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Reply #22 on: October 04, 2009, 07:36:40 AM
I listened to this one after hearing the discussion on Sofanauts and I have to say, I thought it was pretty good. I seem to remember reading something by Caitlin R. Kiernan before and liking it, but I can't remember the name. I liked the surprise when I realized 'the owner' was a woman (if that wasn't revealed earlier and I missed it). Anyway, I love the darker stuff so please don't stop. A great creepy story with excellent narration.



ChairmanWow

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Reply #23 on: October 04, 2009, 03:39:25 PM
I liked the surprise when I realized 'the owner' was a woman (if that wasn't revealed earlier and I missed it).

I was surprised, too, and then berated myself for assuming. >_>


Anyway, great creepy story! I think this'll probably stick in my brain for a while. And in my opinion the internal monologuing and use of second person really pulls you in; it's not very comfortable, but it's effective. Like someone said earlier, it made me think about what I'd do if I was a character in this world.



KenK

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Reply #24 on: October 05, 2009, 06:02:34 PM
It'll stick in my mind too; but I don't mean that in a good way.  :'(