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Author Topic: EP223: The Uncanny Valley  (Read 15169 times)
kibitzer
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Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice


« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2009, 02:05:27 AM »

Hmm. I'm a third the way through. Maybe I'll give it a miss ;-)
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Listener
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« Reply #21 on: November 10, 2009, 09:20:25 AM »

The narrator's unchanging tone and speed of reading kind of made it hard to follow certain heavily-technical parts, and because of the technical aspect of the recording, sometimes I think technical words ran together. Who was it who said if you read something really technical and don't understand it, take out all the words you don't understand and it should be more comprehensible? Well, that's how I try to write SF, and reading it that way usually helps (I missed a LOT of Snow Crash and Anathem and Cryptonomicon the first time through and still really enjoyed all three books). Didn't quite help this time.

A lot of the commentary so far has been in line with what I thought about the story. There were some truly excellent images -- the stress-monkey was very cool, and I guess on reflection was foreshadowing of a monkey being on everyone's back. But at the point where the story reached convergence -- Esme's escape from Alcatraz (I'm still not sure how she got off the island) -- I got totally lost. What was up with the human biomass (Marge Piercy term, I believe, from "He, She, and It", but correct me if I'm wrong)? The sudden inclusion of steampunk and clockpunk? The giant robot that needed therapy? The version of Esme with a dildo, being carried in a wheelbarrow? (Isn't that like two EPs in two months with dildos in them? Am I the only one who noticed that?)

Using a psychiatrist as a MC to help conveniently get around explanation by having the psychiatrist think in psychiatric terms I think is becoming overused in fiction, unless of course the story is about analysis. In the beginning, this story was about that, and I really would've liked that story more -- the posthumans keeping a psychiatrist around to help them figure out why they were so affected by the murder of Stephanie Dowling, with oblique references to another force that was doing the killing of posthumans. As it is this was sort of a "Frame of Mind" (STNG episode) story where the psychiatrist has to keep breaking through POVs until she gets to the real world and can actually effect change.

I did like the fact that convergence happened in a day, and the way the author addressed the biomass just sort of accepting it as yet another news story was very cool.

I think the overall problem was that the author was telling too many stories here and leaving too much unanswered. I mentioned the one I would've liked to hear. Overall a #4 lane story -- not as good as being in the #1 lane, but not as bad as dealing with the merging traffic in #5. (Roadgeek humor.)
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MasterThief
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« Reply #22 on: November 10, 2009, 09:55:50 AM »

This is the first EP story in a long time that was a chore to listen to.  The story couldn't decide what it wanted to be (an apocalypse?  A murder mystery?  a psychodrama?  a robot love story?  steampunk?  cyberpunk?  magical realism?) and everything was just smashed together and indistinguishable.  There was no plot I could follow.  The overuse of similes and metaphors started off annoying, but by the time the story got to "vaginal faces" and "giant leather phalluses" I was looking for the exits.  The main character was boring and unsympathetic, the robots failed to generate any emotional reaction at all.  The narration made me just want to curl up and go to sleep.  And what in the hell was Norm babbling on about in the outro?

I give this story an F.  If the singularity is going to be this boring, count me out.   Angry
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #23 on: November 10, 2009, 10:14:55 AM »

This read like a bad Grant Morrison comic - lots of ideas and pretty imagery thrown out there all higgledy piggledy.  Nothing I could really follow or sink my teeth into.  Hard to follow in audio too - not the narrator's fault really, but it was hard to follow along with switches of POV and scene.  But mostly just seemed like it was trying too hard to be poetic and deep, and not focusing on telling a coherent story.  Got really old really quick.

Ocicat stole my thoughts before I got here to post them.
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RKG
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« Reply #24 on: November 10, 2009, 11:21:41 AM »

I'm not claiming I really understood this well enough to make a coherent comment, but from what I think I understood, they should destroy the collected knowledge of the Krell and get the hell off of Altair IV.
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #25 on: November 10, 2009, 11:29:13 AM »

Quote
but from what I think I understood, they should destroy the collected knowledge of the Krell and get the hell off of Altair IV.

 Cheesy  Excellent!
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Swamp
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« Reply #26 on: November 10, 2009, 12:54:23 PM »

EP gets a D- for this episode.

Overall a #4 lane story -- not as good as being in the #1 lane, but not as bad as dealing with the merging traffic in #5. (Roadgeek humor.)

I give this story an F.  If the singularity is going to be this boring, count me out.   Angry

Do we really want to reduce our comments about a story down to a letter grade?  It's not much more descriptive than a "meh".  The 5 lane rating is more creative (and kind of funny Smiley), but still, all of you did a good enough job explaining your thoughts and offering insightful comments about the story without the grades/ratings.  It's not that big of a deal.  I just envision people posting a grade and nothing else.
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Prank Call of Cthulhu
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« Reply #27 on: November 10, 2009, 06:40:46 PM »

Holy cow, this was a bad story! How bad? It was so bad that the Star Trek Voyager episode "The Thaw" which was not dissimilar to it was better. Yes, I just said Star Trek Voyager didn't suck as bad as something else. I went there. Just because you throw in some clockwork robots for the steampunk fans, chuck every high-falootin' word and foreign phrase you can for the lit majors, toss in some nattering about the singularity or convergence or whatever to grab the interest of the Cory Doctorow fans, then hang it all off a skeleton built from a little Matrix, a little Dark City, and a dash of Voyager, does not mean you'll come up with a good story. It will, however, give you an unmitigated mess of a story. This is why writers need editors, people. A good editor would have taken one look at the draft of this and set fire to it.
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DKT
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« Reply #28 on: November 10, 2009, 07:08:45 PM »

This is why writers need editors, people. A good editor would have taken one look at the draft of this and set fire to it.

Worth noting: Nick Mamatas also works as an editor.
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Darwinist
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« Reply #29 on: November 10, 2009, 07:23:34 PM »


Do we really want to reduce our comments about a story down to a letter grade?  It's not much more descriptive than a "meh". 

Probably not, but what's the big deal if they do?  Or do we need to come up with some forum rules?   
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Ocicat
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« Reply #30 on: November 10, 2009, 07:32:30 PM »


Do we really want to reduce our comments about a story down to a letter grade?  It's not much more descriptive than a "meh". 

Probably not, but what's the big deal if they do?  Or do we need to come up with some forum rules?   

Raising questions without offering answers.  I rate this post a C-
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Darwinist
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« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2009, 07:34:51 PM »


Do we really want to reduce our comments about a story down to a letter grade?  It's not much more descriptive than a "meh". 

Probably not, but what's the big deal if they do?  Or do we need to come up with some forum rules?   

Raising questions without offering answers.  I rate this post a C-

Ooops.  Answer:  let the people grade the stories how they want.  If you don't like it don't read it. 
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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
Swamp
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« Reply #32 on: November 10, 2009, 08:20:23 PM »

Do we really want to reduce our comments about a story down to a letter grade?  It's not much more descriptive than a "meh". 

Probably not, but what's the big deal if they do?  Or do we need to come up with some forum rules?   

We, as moderators, are trying to avoid drumming up a bunch of forum rules.  I don't think anybody wants a bunch of red tape.  However, as the forum grows, that may need to happen.  As I said earlier, it's not a big deal.  I just commented to try to head off a bad trend that could devolve.

Raising questions without offering answers.  I rate this post a C-

 Grin


Ooops.  Answer:  let the people grade the stories how they want.  If you don't like it don't read it. 

I agree with your first sentance, and except in extreme cases, that's pretty much how we roll.  As moderators, we try to establish a community of goodwill from everyone on the forums toward each other, the authors, the readers, etc.  Nobody's perfect.  I've obviously said things in a way that didn't promote good will.

But I do disagree with "if you don't like it, don't read it".  If we are talking only about the grades/rating, okay, I'm with you.  But when you have Prank Call of Cthulu again spewing venom, showing no respect, and dressing down the author as if he were some writing industry authority, it's completely out of line.  It will be read by anyone going through this thread. "If you don't like it, don't read it" isn't going to cut it.
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Swamp
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« Reply #33 on: November 10, 2009, 08:27:44 PM »

Holy cow, this was a bad story! How bad? It was so bad that the Star Trek Voyager episode "The Thaw" which was not dissimilar to it was better. Yes, I just said Star Trek Voyager didn't suck as bad as something else. I went there. Just because you throw in some clockwork robots for the steampunk fans, chuck every high-falootin' word and foreign phrase you can for the lit majors, toss in some nattering about the singularity or convergence or whatever to grab the interest of the Cory Doctorow fans, then hang it all off a skeleton built from a little Matrix, a little Dark City, and a dash of Voyager, does not mean you'll come up with a good story. It will, however, give you an unmitigated mess of a story. This is why writers need editors, people. A good editor would have taken one look at the draft of this and set fire to it.

Prank, we have tried to reason with you and explain the type of respect that we want in the forums.  You obviously don't care or want to push our limits.  One more post like this and you will be temporarily banned.

Obviously, you are not the only person who did not like this story, but others have expressed that in more respectful ways.

EDIT:  Responses to this moderation can be found here
« Last Edit: November 23, 2009, 02:37:12 AM by Swamp » Logged

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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #34 on: November 10, 2009, 09:18:32 PM »

...you throw in some clockwork robots for the steampunk fans, chuck every high-falootin' word and foreign phrase you can for the lit majors, toss in some nattering about the singularity or convergence or whatever to grab the interest of the Cory Doctorow fans, then hang it all off a skeleton built from a little Matrix, a little Dark City, and a dash of Voyager,...

Obviously, you are not the only person who did not like this story, but others have expressed that in more respectful ways.

I don't know ... I think the bit of the quote that I kept above, pretty much nailed it.
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Heradel
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« Reply #35 on: November 10, 2009, 09:45:02 PM »

...you throw in some clockwork robots for the steampunk fans, chuck every high-falootin' word and foreign phrase you can for the lit majors, toss in some nattering about the singularity or convergence or whatever to grab the interest of the Cory Doctorow fans, then hang it all off a skeleton built from a little Matrix, a little Dark City, and a dash of Voyager,...

Obviously, you are not the only person who did not like this story, but others have expressed that in more respectful ways.

I don't know ... I think the bit of the quote that I kept above, pretty much nailed it.

Doesn't matter, you can say it in a way that respects the author and everyone else involved.
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cdugger
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« Reply #36 on: November 12, 2009, 09:36:55 AM »

Sounded like a computer wrote this story. Insert random person description, insert random action, insert random room description.

And no differentiation with the voice. At 11 minutes, I stopped because I could never tell who was talking, or what they meant when they said it.

Definately one of the worst on EP.
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Swamp
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« Reply #37 on: November 12, 2009, 11:19:18 AM »

Sounded like a computer wrote this story.

Sigh.  Again, comments about authors, or other people, don't have to be praising or patronizing, but should have a manner of respect.  cdugger, you don't have a history of spurning comments and I think you are just trying to share your dissappointment with this story, so I'm not picking on you.  It's more to the general principle already discussed due to previous comments.  I don't think Nick Mamatas is a tender flower who cannot take criticism, but basic respect is the baseline that we are trying to establish for the forums.
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wakela
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« Reply #38 on: November 12, 2009, 06:34:53 PM »

Basically what everyone else said. 

I will add that the last ten minutes or so made sense, and I thought the idea of the id taking over the singularity was pretty interesting.  I also like stories that don't seem to make sense at first, but then something clicks and the reader gets an impression of what happened without having it explained.  But this story was just not clear enough.  The EP editors liked it enough to pay for and publish it, so the story probably works better read than heard. 

The gauge in my head that measures amount of dry, detached, cynical, sarcastic, world-weary, judgmental*, snarky narration I hear is pegged at maximum due to the last few months of EPs.  She canna take much more of this, captain.  Not that this was bad narration -- I  thought it was very appropriate.  It's just that there have been several stories read with this voice lately. 

For all the story's bizarreness, the ending seemed pretty main stream. 

* I almost LOLed at the end when she said, "I won't judge you."  Would anyone want this woman as their therapist? 
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cdugger
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« Reply #39 on: November 12, 2009, 08:42:13 PM »

Sigh.  Again, comments about authors, or other people, don't have to be praising or patronizing, but should have a manner of respect.  cdugger, you don't have a history of spurning comments and I think you are just trying to share your dissappointment with this story, so I'm not picking on you.  It's more to the general principle already discussed due to previous comments.  I don't think Nick Mamatas is a tender flower who cannot take criticism, but basic respect is the baseline that we are trying to establish for the forums.

I do apologize if I offended anyone. I in no means was directing that at the author, just the structure of the story.

I don't generally keep track of the authors on EP, so I likely have/will loved/love something else written by the same hand.

What may have done it is the reading. I've been listening to 6-8 stories a day, M-F, and I hear them all. this one was just plain. Not the voice, the reading.
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