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Author Topic: EP235: On the Human Plan  (Read 10091 times)
Swamp
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« on: January 23, 2010, 06:55:45 PM »

EP235: On the Human Plan

By Jay Lake.
Read by Mike Boris (of Mike Boris Audio).

First appeared in Lone Star Stories, February 2009.

I am called Dog the Digger. I am not mighty, neither am I fearsome. Should you require bravos, there are muscle-boys aplenty among the rat-bars of any lowtown on this raddled world. If it is a wizard you want, follow the powder-trails of crushed silicon and wolf’s blood to their dark and winking lairs. Scholars can be found in their libraries, taikonauts in their launch bunkers and ship foundries, priests amid the tallow-gleaming depths of their bone-ribbed cathedrals.

What I do is dig. For bodies, for treasure, for the rust-pocked hulks of history, for the sheer pleasure of moving what cannot be moved and finding what rots beneath. You may hire me for an afternoon or a month or the entire turning of the year. It makes me no mind whatsoever.

As for you, I know what you want. You want a story.


Rated PG. Contains entropy and age. A lot of it.


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fearthepenguin
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2010, 11:54:49 PM »

Excellent narration!  Voices, audio quality, really outstanding.  The story was captivating, but I suspect it flows a bit better as something read as opposed to something listened to.  I had to listen to it a few times to grasp some of the imagery,  but then again I might just be slow  Grin I'm going to track this one down and see if I can read it online, curious to see what I come away with.
edit
The actual text does help fill in the image.   Interesting idea, I would like to read more.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2010, 12:17:59 AM by fearthepenguin » Logged

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Gia
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2010, 06:37:50 PM »

I liked the concept, but the end felt unsatisfying. Dog talked to his priest friend and then . . . nothing. I know that that's supposed to be the point because nothing really ends in that world, but it still bothered me.
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KenK
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2010, 10:44:25 PM »

Listened to it twice and couldn't make heads or tails out of it.  Huh

The ex-NPR voice actor sure was a pleasure to listen to though.  Smiley
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Jinmoonlight
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2010, 11:03:55 PM »

I absolutely adored this tale.  It had the feel of one of those classic sci-fi stories that were more about the composition of a thought than creating a traditional narrative. 

The reading had a classic feel as well, reminding me of 1980's books on tape. 
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Kathryn
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2010, 02:06:30 PM »

I am way too stupid to understand this one. Love the voice, though.

Kathryn
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Subgenre
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2010, 03:21:15 PM »

I kept waiting for Dog the Digger to go down and have an adventure digging for Death's Door. The fact that the story builds up for an adventure and then steers directly away from that left me a little miffed. It's not that I don't like philosophical stories, I've been going through back-episodes and Exhalation is a great one, but this one's beginning and framing device of a storing being told built up my expectations that it would be an adventure piece.

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wakela
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2010, 06:46:49 PM »

I really enjoyed this story and the reading was fantastic.  The ending did leave me confused.  Like following a river and having it end up in a swamp.  Dog said several times that the door to death he was looking for was not a metaphor, and yet that's what we got.  Or is it.  Not 100% to be honest.  But still I would wholeheartedly welcome more stories from Jay Lake* and more read by Mike Boris.

*That name sounds familiar.  I remember from the intro that he's published a lot of stuff, but I forgot if he's had anything on EP.
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cdugger
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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2010, 07:45:01 PM »

Just couldn't get into this one. Not enough story in the story. Loved the concept, and would like to hear more from that Universe, but with a little more life.

The reading was great, but too much of that NPR tone. Started to lull me to sleep, and that's sad, because he's got a wonderful voice! Again, a little more life.

Regardless, I want more from both.
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bumdhar
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2010, 08:24:26 PM »

I think this story was a slam dunk. It had a poetic, philosophical quality to it that one rarely sees in short fiction these days. I'm defiantly gonna give it another listen, and seek out the text version somewhere. I also thought the story was well read. Professionally done.   
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tinroof
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2010, 09:08:28 PM »

I've got to agree with Subgenre. I loved the imagery, the world, the narration, but the ending left me pretty underwhelmed compared to the rest of it. The whole thing deserved to be a longer and much bigger piece.

Still a very good story, though.
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KenK
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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2010, 09:59:18 PM »

This story reminds me of a Salvador Dali painting or an M.C. Escher drawing; beautiful imagery and exquisite craftsmanship signifying nothing. Sci-fi zen.
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2010, 10:10:31 PM »

I visited the Salvador Dali museum just south of Tampa, Florida back in 2007 and I think they'd disagree with at least part of that statement...

“We’re just people who remain ever-curious. We’re just attracted to whatever comes in handy. Again, like the Surrealists, anything you run across is actually beautiful; within a single city block, you find miraculous things. It’s a good planet—and good things can happen.”
Lux Interior
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KenK
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« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2010, 10:37:15 PM »

So is the meaning left deliberately obscure or does it really have any specific meaning at all? When prose is this obscurantist, no matter how beautifully constructed, the analysis becomes like some kind of English grad student post-modernism seminar. It descends into solipsism or becomes a Rorschach test style critique. But it is lovely though, eh?  Wink
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Sgarre1
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2010, 11:56:08 PM »

Dali is fairly explicable, once you know what his major concerns are.  There's no "signifying nothing" there...

“Here, clock time is no longer valid.”
J. G. Ballard, THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION, (re: Salvador Dali's “Persistence of Memory”)
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2010, 10:09:56 AM »

I am way too stupid to understand this one.

Don't sell yourself short like that... at least consider the possibility that it just wasn't a very good story.

I didn't care for it, myself.  Agree that it kind of sets the audience up for an adventure story and then just goes off into pretentious toss.
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Doom xombie
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Hi


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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2010, 10:25:30 AM »

I personally loved the story. The reader gave it a nice rhythm and the story flowed right into my mind. The imagery was very vivid to me. I kept visualizing digger holding that axe. Actually I pictured only the axe. In my head digger kept morphing from more or less human plan to something like a dump truck to bobcat-type thing. I loved how my perception was challenged when he went inside the church and the priest scryed. And at the end when you realize that earth is in perpetual stasis of some kind. Waiting only for the sun to wake them from it. I thought what Mr. Eley said was interesting, the bit about with death there is not life. There is only being, existing, waiting perhaps.
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tinroof
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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2010, 10:37:33 AM »

I personally couldn't help but picture Digger as a large, exasperated wombat. Maybe that's why I liked the story so much.
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« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2010, 09:29:02 AM »

The narration was excellent, and the narrator perfectly-chosen for this story.

However, I didn't enjoy the story. It took too long to get to the story that Digger told, and that story had no real ending. It just sort of melted away into a "well, what do you think?" The scientific concepts were TOO big, I think, for the scope of this particular story, and the text kept hitting "on the human plan" over and over, bashing my head in that THESE PEOPLE AREN'T TRADITIONAL HUMANS ANYMORE YOU DOOFUS! I think it could've been done in a better way -- I can't think of it right off the top of my head but the way Digger kept saying "on the human plan" just really got on my nerves, taking me out of the story (which I wasn't really into anyway for the aforementioned reasons).
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2010, 10:04:22 AM »

Hmm.....  (I'm not addressing Hillary Moon Murphy, that's a thinking sound!)

I'm not sure what I think of it.  I have mixed feelings and they were polar opposites. 

I liked the voice of the narrator, the use of "the human plan" as if it was "the family plan" from a cell phone provider.  I liked the time-altering bots, and the philosophy of "without death there is no life".

I disliked the completely fizzled ending--was I supposed to get any sort of meaning out of it or was it just meant to confuse me?  I was looking forward to the adventure that never surfaced.  I never got a clear picture of what Digger looked like--all I know is that he did not look human, but that leaves infinite possibilities. 

In the line of the core philosophy, it touches on a philosophical discussion oft-repeated between me and my wife.  She's been fascinated with vampires ever since reading Anne Rice as a kid, and she's gotten into Twilight in the last couple years.  She's asked me the question time and again whether I'd rather be a vampire or a werewolf (as described in that series).  Every time I say without hesitation:  werewolf.  My main reasons for this (some of which are relevant here):

1.  The biggest reason for this is the philosophy shared with this story:  without death, there is no life.  If I am eternal, then individual days lose their meaning in the infinite resolution of eternity.  Individual events become meaningless by their fleeting nature.  Life is a story, and every story must have a beginning and an end.  No matter how many times we have the discussion, my wife thinks me insane for this view.  Longevity, I would not turn down, but immortality, I'm not interested. 

2.  Not only an eternal life, but no food!  I LOVE food way too much to depend only on blood for sustenance.  A liquid diet for eternity, and not only that but the EXACT same substance, would be pure torture.

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