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Author Topic: EP226: Pirate Solutions  (Read 19294 times)

Swamp

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on: November 26, 2009, 10:45:46 PM
EP226: Pirate Solutions

by Katherine Sparrow
Read by Sarah Tolbert, Kate Baker, Nate Periat, and Steve Eley

The story first appeared in Fast Ships, Black Sails edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.

You could feel their heat. Not a metaphor, I don’t mean that, I mean literally the room grew warmer when they were in it. They were both so powerful. Whenever Anne and Jack (they weren’t named that then, but that’s who they were) strolled into the room you got contact highs from their lust. People who would never make out would find excuses to go to the bathroom together and come back with monster hickies. Everyone always wanted to sit near them because of their heat, and because they always said the thing you wish you’d said but only thought to say a billion blinks later.

When I first joined the Freebooter tech collective Anne and Jack were happy to have another girl in the group, but otherwise they ignored me. I could stare and stare at them all day long, hiding behind my black-rimmed glasses. But then one day Anne looked at me, and then Jack looked too, and we all just sort of fell toward each other. Like gravity. Like magic. Like there was a God.


Rated ARRRRR.


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« Last Edit: November 26, 2009, 10:53:16 PM by Swamp »

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KenK

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Reply #1 on: November 27, 2009, 02:43:23 PM
An interesting concept this "freebooter tech collective" gamers group.Takes the MUD style gaming experience to a much higher level, eh?  :D

Multiple readers was a good idea here too. Congrats to the EP production crew. 



MacArthurBug

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Reply #2 on: November 27, 2009, 07:06:58 PM
I want rum! Fantastic story line, wonderful characters, and a wonderful group reading. Every facet of this piece was well done. More! (and rum)

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Yargling

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Reply #3 on: November 27, 2009, 07:17:04 PM
So...what? They are mind controlled? Nano-teched twisted? To be honest, not so keen on it - but the "person/people gets transformed stories" creep me out and make me dislike the stories regardless of their other merits.



Jagash

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Reply #4 on: November 28, 2009, 12:25:11 AM
I agree that the multiple readers were ideal for this piece, though I found the weird fiction elements a touch less then ideal for my personal preferences.  The description of the hallucinating man drifting on the oceans surrounded by dolphins was quite well done.    Likewise, the appropriate uses of the elements mentioned by Steve in the end were good.

Congrats.

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deflective

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Reply #5 on: November 28, 2009, 03:10:42 AM
this one was a lot of fun.  i like how it accurately captures the feel of a subculture without worrying too much about fiddly details.

in related news, mininova surrendered to international galleons the same day that this was posted.  so that's half an hour of redirecting bitorrent rss feeds ahead of me.  congratulations to the industry luddites on winning your battle.

what's that? missing a couple islands you say? i'm sure they'll turn up.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2009, 04:23:26 AM by deflective »



heyes

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Reply #6 on: November 28, 2009, 12:23:09 PM
Thinly veiled soft core poly-porn should come with some kind of pg-13 warning during the intro. Both of the readers did their job very well.  Yes, I said both, because after part 2 I was bored. I'm sure Steve Eley did a great job reading, he always does.  I like a good pirate story any day, but this was not one.  Let's get back into the sci-fi realm pretty soon please.

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Gia

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Reply #7 on: November 28, 2009, 06:00:10 PM
I can't say that I liked this story and I was really excited for a pirate story. Mary's and Anne's parts had no conflict, no plot. They talked about how nice the sea was, drank rum and made out. They're pirates who don't do anything. All right, fine. They did some hacking, but despite how they purportedly hacked for up to twelve hours a day we were only told about it passingly and we didn't actually see any for most of the story until we got to Steve Eley's part. When the first ship showed up during Jack's part I thought "Oh boy! Here comes some actual conflict and . . . they all got along. Great." The part with Steve Eley's character (his name was never important) did have ship-to-ship combat (I think), but by that point I had stopped caring.



kibitzer

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Reply #8 on: November 29, 2009, 04:54:40 AM
I started out not liking this one, but it grew on me. I think I was trying to piece things together at the beginning and it wasn't easy or obvious. But I did like it in the end and the ensemble reading was grand.

BTW, Steve's capstone about finding out your grandfather was a pirate? The Aussie equivalent is discovering one of your forebears arrived with the First Fleet -- as a convict :-).
« Last Edit: November 29, 2009, 05:22:36 AM by kibitzer »



Talia

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Reply #9 on: November 29, 2009, 05:30:40 AM
Thinly veiled soft core poly-porn should come with some kind of pg-13 warning during the intro. Both of the readers did their job very well.  Yes, I said both, because after part 2 I was bored. I'm sure Steve Eley did a great job reading, he always does.  I like a good pirate story any day, but this was not one.  Let's get back into the sci-fi realm pretty soon please.

I'd argue "thinly veiled soft core poly-porn" is an EXTREME exaggeration unless you're ultra conservative. Not that there's anything wrong with that, just I feel sorry for you :P

Secondly, this story was pretty solidly sci fi, alabeit with fantasy elements. If you're going to argue that anything with fantasy elements is automatically fantasy rather than sci fi , well, why couldnt someone argue that anything with sci fi elements is automatically sci fi and also be correct?

Its that whole "science fiction is what you point to and say it is" thing.



Delysid

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Reply #10 on: November 29, 2009, 08:24:56 AM
I very much enjoyed the story!  Nice magical blending of past & present thru agency of psychedelic bone rum, and the lightly rendered sex felt authentic, integral to the story, and so easily and comfortably slipped into by author and characters.  Something not often done so well or so fluidly.

I did feel midway thru story that computer hacker component, qualifying it for sci fi, was maybe grafted on unnecessarily, but by 2/3 or 3/4 way thru, changed my opinion.  I think it worked well, especially as that element built & its viral nature was revealed, spreading ever further through the global population.  I liked that. 

And good that it was just sketched in without too much detail, cuz consideration of the unfortunate gender balance that would likely be present in such a population of hacker nerds, i.e. 10 to 1 male to female, would kinda spoil the fantasy & burst the bubble. 

Better as it was, eliding that harsh toke of reality & instead focussing on depicting more the *feeling* of such a mass liberation, which would involve as many girls as boys (child & adult) if broken out of computer nerdville.  Cuz girls are rebellious & anarchic creatures at heart, even more than boys.

Story was also the subliminal inspiration, I realized while in line to pay, for my purchase of a bottle of the darkest dark rum I could find in liquor store tonight.  The brand: Captain Morgan, of course, with the date 1680 enigmatically emblazoned on neck of bottle. 

Have to confess to disappointment at not being able to see a piece of bone in the bottom of bottle, but maybe it's there.  Resisted strong urge to swig heavily & directly from bottle like in the story, only because I'm still fighting off a sore throat.  But maybe I should for that very reason....

in related news, mininova surrendered to international galleons the same day that this was posted.  so that's half an hour of redirecting bitorrent rss feeds ahead of me.  congratulations to the industry luddites on winning your battle.

Garrrr.  (Angry pirate noise, combining Grr w Arrr)  But take heart, mateys, in wise closing paragraphs from linked-to CBC article:

Quote
The website (mininova) also made efforts to remove links to copyrighted material, unlike The Pirate Bay, another big torrent site, which has taunted entertainment companies by posting their takedown requests and mocking them.

The Pirate Bay itself recently removed its tracker links, replacing with them with a more decentralized kind of peer-to-peer network that will be harder for copyright holders to pin down. The Pirate Bay's founders were found guilty of promoting copyright infringement earlier this year by a Swedish court.

Peer-to-peer users are expected to migrate to the new technology, which uses magnet links to find files, and to other torrent sites that will inevitably spring up as the big ones gradually shut down.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2009, 08:27:08 AM by Delysid »



madmatt

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Reply #11 on: November 29, 2009, 09:30:20 PM
The production was great, but the story itself was a confusing mess of half formed ideas that left me feeling nothing, and thinking "WTF?" - not in the good way either! Thats unusual for Escape Pod, even the stories I don't like at least make me think a bit.

Definitely worst escape pod ever for me.



yaksox

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Reply #12 on: November 30, 2009, 12:24:48 AM
Let's have the English woman read some more stories, please  ;).

I liked the ship battle action scene near the end, and I found the perspective of the guy saved by dolphins refreshing because for the most part it was exceedingly nerdy. Never thought I'd hear a character yell "apt-get!" in a short story.



cdugger

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Reply #13 on: November 30, 2009, 03:29:33 PM
Not a good one, this.

The story started confused. Sounded like the author wanted to write some 3-way porn, then chickened out. Then, decided to just throw in computers for the sci-fi, merged historical and modern day pirates, and then just made them...nothing.

So they steal. Big deal. There really wasn't much story here.

I did like the reading, though. Using a different person for every narrator was a good idea, and worked quite well.

I read, therefore I am...happy.


Alasdair5000

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Reply #14 on: November 30, 2009, 05:02:21 PM
Not a good one, this.

The story started confused. Sounded like the author wanted to write some 3-way porn, then chickened out.


Let's not get into baseless speculation about the motives for writing the story, please.



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Reply #15 on: November 30, 2009, 05:28:15 PM
I enjoyed the magical realism, but then I tend more towards the Fantasy than the Sci-fi end of the fandom spectrum anyway.  I thought the image of the piratical mindset, as it were, being passed down and finding a new home in an unlikely place.  I think it's interesting to see an abstract concept made concrete in this way, with the rum serving as the medium and the message.

I kept thinking the story was about to end, checking the iPod, and seeing twenty, fifteen, ten minutes left.  Unusually, this didn't annoy me as it often does.  Instead, I started wondering where else the story was going.  I think it ended in an interesting place; the third arc was, I think, a necessary coda to the story, because previously the pirate souls had only found willing vessels.  The would-be suicide was the first openly hostile party exposed to the pirate world, and watching him gradually come to understand the instinctive rebellion, the urge toward independence and separation, the glee and avarice of that world was a fascinating progression.

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Gallagher

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Reply #16 on: November 30, 2009, 10:25:15 PM
I definitely enjoyed this story in parts but not as much when placed all together. Of all the parts I felt the first drinking of the rum was strongest both through the author and the narrator. I will say that at that point the story seduced my mind completely into sharing the sensations right along with the characters, each drop of rum seemed to leave the story and become reality.

The cooperative narration was very pleasing and not at all unsettling as I find with some of the other episodes where one narrator must fill in a voice that is just unnatural. The Escape Artist Narrators are typically very good none the less but this aspect made the experience silky smooth, just like the rum.

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Darwinist

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Reply #17 on: December 01, 2009, 05:30:38 AM
Thinly veiled soft core poly-porn should come with some kind of pg-13 warning during the intro. Both of the readers did their job very well.  Yes, I said both, because after part 2 I was bored. I'm sure Steve Eley did a great job reading, he always does.  I like a good pirate story any day, but this was not one.  Let's get back into the sci-fi realm pretty soon please.

I agree with you on this.  I haven't connected with the last several stories and haven't liked an episode enough to save it for a long time.   Great reading, though, but I'm looking forward to something different this week.

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


stePH

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Reply #18 on: December 02, 2009, 03:29:15 PM
Not a good one, this.

The story started confused. Sounded like the author wanted to write some 3-way porn, then chickened out. Then, decided to just throw in computers for the sci-fi, merged historical and modern day pirates, and then just made them...nothing.

So they steal. Big deal. There really wasn't much story here.

I did like the reading, though. Using a different person for every narrator was a good idea, and worked quite well.

Apart from seeing pr0n that wasn't there, I agree with this psot.  The story was interesting to listen to, and the multiple readers served it well, but I just didn't get the point.

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Reply #19 on: December 02, 2009, 04:17:03 PM
So, on Saturday I started listening to this story, and about ten minutes in I stopped. I was just not getting it, at all.

Yesterday I decided to give it a second chance, and started over. This time, I enjoyed it a lot more - I still wouldn't rate this as a favorite, but it did work for me.

My main problem that remains is that I didn't get much of a feeling of consistent world building. A lot of stuff happened, and it all connected to make a consistent narrative, but it felt a bit like it was driven by random thoughts that the author had rather than any planning. Quite probably this is false, an artifact of the somewhat chaotic style, but that's what it felt like to me.



Scattercat

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Reply #20 on: December 02, 2009, 08:57:58 PM
I think that might be because the story takes a while to get settled into a groove.  When it started out, I wasn't sure what the setting even was, and we spent a long time talking about the characters instead of clarifying some things (like what "collective" referred to, what era it was set in, etc.)  I started out picturing a close-knit space station somewhere and the "literally" hot couple as actual aliens until I gradually picked up on it.  I think that if it were in context with other, more similar stories, it might have been easier to slip into the "not quite the real world" zone it took place in, but because Escape Pod can end up taking us anywhere from ancient South America to a spaceship in a distant galaxy, it was harder to get a fix on where the story was aiming.

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stePH

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Reply #21 on: December 02, 2009, 11:02:02 PM
Coming back to say I think this story would have been better suited to Podcastle.  Never mind the computer-hacker collectives; the bone-rum is totally a "magical realism" thing.

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wakela

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Reply #22 on: December 02, 2009, 11:28:34 PM
As others have said this story is just a series of events without any goals or challenges.  What they were doing must have been exceedingly challenging, but the extent of the conflict is summed up in coding for hours on end.  Who are the British in their computer piracy scheme? 

I did enjoy the suicide guy at the end.  He was a nice dose of reality after the happy, conflict-free computer hippies.  I was hoping that his negativity would be the fly in the ointment, and make their idealized lives more interesting.

Kudos on the production and the multiple voices.

I don't see how this story is science fiction.  Steve didn't even sound convinced in the outro.  Yes, there are computers, but there's a computer on my desk and I'm not science fiction.  And the central Weird Thing in the story is the rum, not the hacking.  I know we're not supposed to go there on the Episode discussion, so I won't reply if someone challenges me on this.  I just wanted to get my two pennies in there.

This is pretty negative, but I did actually enjoy listening to the story.  The characters were good, the reading was good, and I didn't know what was going to happen.  But the story just didn't meet my expectations. 



deflective

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Reply #23 on: December 03, 2009, 10:35:18 AM
i've stayed out of genre discussions for a long time because there's only so many times you can go round a ride before the scenery gets tired but this story is interesting since it's a case that shows one of the subtler differences between scifi and fantasy.

the vast majority of the story was an analogy, the pirate bones dissolving in rum (pirate solution) represented a spreading philosophy or world view.  the  ways that ideas can spread has become a topic of interest over the past couple of years as shown by the words meme & zeitgeist entering popular culture.

pirates in this story spread by drinking.  drink the rum, live the life, create an empty bottle that carries the message.  this is much the same way that online movements spread simply by people using the idea.  other people see it, put their own twist on it (find their own stash), and expand the concept.  a fringe culture may then build up by collecting people that feel like they don't fit in anywhere else.

this is a big part of what makes this scifi to me, it's an analogous investigation of how an idea is spread.  a large portion of the scifi genre (usually the hard stuff) investigates how things work, or may work in the future, whereas fantasy tends to concentrate on the way things are.  an analogous fantasy story is a parable which models a truth and gives a moral lesson.  an example might have the master of a house giving money to the children and then rewarding those who invest it, condemning those who hide it.  a scifi story might have much the same plot but, in addition, there could be an exploration of what money is, the difference between money & wealth and how removing money from an economy affects people's motivation.

it isn't a hard rule, but fantasy rarely concerns itself with hows or whys.


btw, if you haven't heard about Calico Jack, Mary Read and Anne Bonny it's worth taking a few minutes to look at them.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2009, 10:37:41 AM by deflective »



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Reply #24 on: December 03, 2009, 08:08:22 PM
I liked the story. Very inventive. I look forward to hearing more from this author. Like Mr.Eley said at the end, maybe she’ll write some continuation. On a personal note: I work with programmers. They’re not cool. They wouldn’t listen to this story. Hell I don’t think they even read. They are on the other ship. I hope the pirates sink em.