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Author Topic: EP231: Solitary as an Oyster  (Read 10014 times)
Swamp
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« on: December 26, 2009, 10:30:43 PM »

EP231: Solitary as an Oyster

by Mur Lafferty.
Read by Alasdair Stuart.

First appeared in Asimov’s, December 2002.

“Who’s there?” the voice asked, rough and unpleasant. Robert and Lydia glanced at each other.

“The Paranormalists, Mr. Scrooge. You called us a couple of hours ago,” Robert said.

“Took you long enough,” the voice said. The door clicked as Scrooge unlocked several locks, and finally it slid open a couple of centimeters. Scrooge peered out, the heavy chain still on the door. Jenny flipped the night vision off her camera to get a clear view of him in the foyer’s dim light. He was much smaller than his voice implied, a diminutive man who was probably a bear in the conference room, but a pussycat when in thin pajamas and a robe.

Well, not a pussycat. Something more like a weasel.


Rated PG. Contains ghostly visitations. Film at 11.

Special Closing Music: “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” by Twisted Sister.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2009, 10:32:49 PM »

Steve snuck this one in on me, but I'm glad to be surprized by a traditional Mur Lafferty Christmas story.  Haven't listened yet, but...
« Last Edit: December 28, 2009, 09:01:09 AM by Swamp » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2009, 02:36:11 PM »

I'm patient. I really gavfe this  a chance. After all a Mur story read by Al? This'd be squee worthy if only..
Worth it if one can handle the audio quality a little over halfway through all of a sudden the hisses and pops magically go away.  The story itself is pretty darn good, and despite sounding tired, rushed and hiss-poppy Al's reading is spot on.  Whatever affected the sound qualkity on the first 2/3 of the story made it regrettable and I'm adding my voet to re-recording (or editing or whatever) if it's possible. This seemed like a good story.
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2009, 05:38:58 PM »

I'm patient. I really gave this  a chance. After all a Mur story read by Al? This'd be squee worthy if only..
Worth it if one can handle the audio quality a little over halfway through all of a sudden the hisses and pops magically go away.  The story itself is pretty darn good, and despite sounding tired, rushed and hiss-poppy Al's reading is spot on.  Whatever affected the sound qualkity on the first 2/3 of the story made it regrettable and I'm adding my voet to re-recording (or editing or whatever) if it's possible. This seemed like a good story.

I'm with MacArthurBug.  If you could make it through the sound quality, this a very well written and told story.

When I saw Scrooge was involved, I groaned a bit inside, but the Ghost Hunter angle kept me intrigued long enough to get into the characters, and then I was hooked.  That each of the three characters had their individual encounters with one of the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future; that Scrooge was more of a setting than a character; that there was only one POV character; that the relationships grew to more than just co-workers: all of these things combine to make it a great story.  Is it my favorite Mur EP Christmas story?  I'll have to think about that.  It's close.  Maybe I'll re-listen to the cleaner version. (No, I don't know anything about plans for such.)
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« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2009, 08:24:48 PM »

  I'm glad I soldiered through the first half of the story instead of turning it off (it was a near thing as I know my wife couldn't understand half of it, and I was able to get just enough to follow the story), as I really liked the crossing over of a Ghost Hunters clone with A Christmas Carol. I was quite happy when the sound suddenly cleared up.

  I really enjoyed this story; I think it may be Mur's best winter story yet, although she could maybe have snuck in a jetpack or two somewhere.  Wink

  for some reason it made me think of the old Ghostbusters episode where they accidentally bust the Christmas ghosts and destroy Christmas.
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2010, 06:01:00 PM »

Okay I am reopening this thread for anybody who has listened to the story prior to the re-recording (or after) and would like to make comments about the story.

I have moved the comments regarding the audio quality into a new thread in Metachat.  That topic remains locked.  There is no new area to cover there.  Any discussion of the audio quality here will be removed.  If you really feel like you have something worthwhile to add to that discussion, you can PM me and I will consider it.
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2010, 06:10:03 PM »

Here are some comments on the story that didn't make it through the topic split:

I liked this story quite a lot; favorite Lafferty holiday story is still "Merry Christmas from the Heartbreakers" but I didn't like "Citytalkers" at all, and had no great opinion of the "steampunk Santa" story whose title currently escapes me.
And I just remembered I forgot "Santa in My Pocket", which was #2 to "Heartbreakers" before last night; now displaced to #3.

I don't think I missed anyone else's comment on the story, but let me know if I did.
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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2010, 02:28:53 AM »

I thoroughly enjoyed this story! It was a fun mash up of two aspects of contemporary culture; "reality" TV and paying homage to a favourite story with a re-write/update. In this case particularly, it really worked. The "reality" TV take was bang on, and the Christmas Carol aspect was significantly novel, with our characters accompanying Scrooge (instead of replacing him) and splitting the 3 ghosts between them. On top of that, the story underlying these tropes was itself interesting and relevant to the holiday season: friends and family vs. self-isolation is particularly poignant at this time of year. I also liked that the story narrator didn't have an instant epiphany, but came to her personal growth more slowly. I thought that made it very realistic.

Thanks EP and Mer for this!
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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2010, 09:58:19 AM »

Yes, most of the comments are about the audio, sadly, but then what else is there to discuss? It's a Mur story. It's awesome.

I love the story's way of showing us the moment when Jenny realizes she has the power to change the sad possible future. I also love that although Scrooge has shed his greed and miserliness, maniacal egoism has taken their place.

If the re-recording hasn't already occurred (I haven't looked for it yet), I'd like to ask Mur herself to do it, if she'd be so kind. I'm an Alasdair fan, but nobody reads Mur like Mur.
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2010, 10:04:07 AM »

Yes, most of the comments are about the audio, sadly, but then what else is there to discuss? It's a Mur story. It's awesome.

I love the story's way of showing us the moment when Jenny realizes she has the power to change the sad possible future. I also love that although Scrooge has shed his greed and miserliness, maniacal egoism has taken their place.

If the re-recording hasn't already occurred (I haven't looked for it yet), I'd like to ask Mur herself to do it, if she'd be so kind. I'm an Alasdair fan, but nobody reads Mur like Mur.

Escape Artists seems to have a standing policy against authors reading their own work.
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2010, 10:25:50 AM »

Escape Artists seems to have a standing policy against authors reading their own work.

I have noticed authors reading their own works has declined.  Is this really a policy?  Seems unlikely to me.

Mur is a great narrator, and her readings of various her Union Dues stories are just great!  She is also very busy it seems.  Hopefully in a way that insures many more stories of hers to be produced and published!

I am so looking forward to listening to "Solitary as an Oyster"!  Couldn't make it through the recording, though I tried multiple times.  Too old with too much high frequency hearing loss I guess.  I will be lurking Escape Pod for my chance to listen to this story, from one of my favorite authors!

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Swamp
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« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2010, 11:32:44 AM »

Escape Artists seems to have a standing policy against authors reading their own work.

I have noticed authors reading their own works has declined.  Is this really a policy?  Seems unlikely to me.

Mur is a great narrator, and her readings of various her Union Dues stories are just great!  She is also very busy it seems.  Hopefully in a way that insures many more stories of hers to be produced and published!

Steve has made it a policy from the beginning for authors not to read their own works on the podcast.

Just as clarification, Jeffery R. DeRego writes the Union Dues super hero stories, though Mur did read one of these: EP062: Union Dues - The Baby and the Bathwater.  Mur has written and podcast her own super hero novel, which is now available as a print novel: Playing For Keeps.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2010, 11:42:22 AM by Swamp » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2010, 09:57:00 AM »


Steve has made it a policy from the beginning for authors not to read their own works on the podcast.


I think Steve did read a Steve Eley story one time....
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2010, 11:49:59 AM »


Steve has made it a policy from the beginning for authors not to read their own works on the podcast.


I think Steve did read a Steve Eley story one time....

OK so I looked it up here.  Steve has had two of his own stories produced on the cast:

EP050: The Malcontent, read by Pual S. Jenkins (perfect reader for that story IMO)
EP076: The Dinner Game, read by Maia Whitaker
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2010, 09:55:50 AM »

I didn't like this one. I kind of saw how it was going to go once Scrooge was mentioned, and Jenny was a very unsympathetic character who takes WAY too long to be redeemed. All I could think of when I thought of the ghosthunters was "GHOSTFACERS" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostfacers), and honestly all the TV insider-talk, while light, was enough to break me out of the story itself. I also thought the different difficulties each character faced were a little cliche, especially in light of how awesome Robert's life was overall. Once they got to Robert's house at the end, I was so sick of Jenny's self-indulgent self-loathing that I seriously hoped she didn't change. It took way too long to get to the part where she and Lydia go outside to help the blonde with the broken-down car.

I think perhaps the reason I really hated Jenny is because she, as a technical person, is capable of changing her situation. For several years, I was the board-operator for a sci-fi radio show (on the actual radio). I kept trying to get more involved -- I love SF after all -- but the closest I ever got was coming up with the new name (pretty big, right?) and doing all the audio. And getting them into using chatrooms and AIM. But then they brought in the show producer... and then this writer friend of one of the hosts... and then this girl who I knew from high school and who hated me back then and didn't respect me while we were doing the show. So one day I went to the program director and said I didn't want to work that shift anymore, and could I possibly change to a different one? He said sure, and in two weeks I was working a different shift. I was even more bitter when I found out they incorporated the new board-op into the show, but I let it go and haven't looked back.

Jenny was obviously a good camera operator. I'm sure some other show at the BBC could have used her. She says as much -- that there's always a need for good camerapersons.

So, in all, I didn't really enjoy the story. Steampunk Santa from last year was FAR better than this.
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« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2010, 03:44:21 PM »

I'm very much looking forward to hearing this one!  A Mur Lafferty story read by Alasdair Stuart?  Can it get any better than that?  I love Mur's sense of humor and style, and I would buy a keg of Alasdair's voice if it were available for purchase (I found one on the black market, but they wouldn't let it through customs!).  I hope Al wasn't too bothered by the personal comments against him, so I'm hoping the positive at least balances them out!  Mur and Alasdair, you rock!  And that goes for the rest of the staff as well!

If this recording were my only option I'd listen to it, but since I know there's a re-recording in the works I will wait patiently until it's available and listen at that time.  Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2010, 02:49:32 PM »

I wasn't too keen on Alasdair's narration of this to be honest. Not for the audio quality angle so much as I don't think his style really fitted the piece, he sounded off-hand. It did need a British voice, only Dave Goelz would be the only permissible American to read a 'Christmas Carol'-related story.

As for the story... Are the perceived weaknesses really weaknesses if they are demanded by the story structure? Of course Robert, Lydia and Jenny start out as fairly unsympathetic characters and in 'A Christmas Carol' we only find out that Scrooge's persona has developed as a reaction to his childhood once he's away with the Ghost of Christmas Past. But because we don't get to see what Robert and Lydia go through, the ultimate act of told not shown, I felt it difficult to accept the transformation. And what exactly is the relationship between Lydia and Jenny, is Jenny straight, or just gay-but-not-into-Lydia or gay-and-into-Lydia-but-it-still-goes-horribly-wrong?

All this sounds horribly critical, the moment that rung truest for me was at the end with Robert and his daughter who is just glad that Daddy is back in time for Christmas. Even a hardened cynic would find it difficult to ignore the joy of that moment.
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« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2010, 05:06:14 PM »

Really looking forward to hearing the re-posted version.  I struggled too much through the first half to be able to comment properly, but I love Alasdair's readings and I thought he was spot on with this story when it cleared up for the last bit...
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« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2010, 07:04:32 PM »

Did this ever get re-posted in a fixed version?
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« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2010, 08:29:58 PM »

Did this ever get re-posted in a fixed version?

Apparently not yet.  If you click on the title inside the top post, it takes you to escapepod.org's page for this episode.  Below the title, above the description, is this:

Editor’s Note: There are significant audio issues in the first half of this file. Alasdair Stuart has volunteered to record it again and we’ll post a corrected version soon. Thank you for your patience.

Hovering over the Download link shows the same file name as originally posted (no "fixed" in the name, as there has been with other fixed files).
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