Author Topic: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake  (Read 35615 times)

Talia

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #60 on: June 04, 2010, 02:41:08 AM »
Ok, a snack cake that thinks...

Which has a protein based thinking device built into it....

Who else is thinking.. EDIBLE BRAINS!

All brains are edible, or so the slavering zombie hoardes would have me believe

Talia

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #61 on: June 04, 2010, 02:41:52 AM »
Nah not really; perhaps because I still wash most of my dishes by hand, and dishwashers have been around how long? :P

You might not, when your dishes can package up leftovers, absorb the remains, dispose of waste materials and finally store themselves by seamlessly forming part of the dining table (which, in turn, shape-shifts itself into an attractive mural or grandfather clock...).

The next day, your dishes are back with new designs and colours and even contours.

good point. I want those.

Someone get on inventing them, stat.

clichekiller

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #62 on: June 04, 2010, 05:46:10 PM »
This story just struck me as something that would come out of a high-school creative writing class.  Very juvenile, not even the little bit entertaining. 

Wilson Fowlie

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #63 on: June 04, 2010, 07:06:13 PM »
... I still wash most of my dishes by hand, and dishwashers have been around how long? :P

You might not, when your dishes can package up leftovers, absorb the remains, dispose of waste materials and finally store themselves by seamlessly forming part of the dining table (which, in turn, shape-shifts itself into an attractive mural or grandfather clock...).

The next day, your dishes are back with new designs and colours and even contours.

good point. I want those.

Someone get on inventing them, stat.

I just did.  Now someone has to build them.  ;)
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Sandikal

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #64 on: June 04, 2010, 11:59:57 PM »
Oh my gosh!  I was embarrassingly turned on by the lascivious snack cake.

kristin

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #65 on: June 05, 2010, 09:57:21 PM »
I love this story! It's not too often a story can make you hungry and horny at the same time. I liked that it was silly. I thought it was fun. And hover carts are cool. Plus many times have I had a cart that had a wheel that was stuck in the wrong position, making it hard to turn or even go straight.

Father Beast

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #66 on: June 07, 2010, 11:56:10 AM »
Ok, a snack cake that thinks...

Which has a protein based thinking device built into it....

Who else is thinking.. EDIBLE BRAINS!

All brains are edible, or so the slavering zombie hoardes would have me believe

Of course, that's the point! If I stock up on these snack cakes, I can throw them at zombies, which will eat them instead of me.

Jinmoonlight

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #67 on: June 07, 2010, 11:51:25 PM »
I adored this story, I adored the reading.  No, I don't think that this future is a likely one, but it doesn't have to be our possible future for it to work.  I can suspend a whole lot of disbelief for a good story, and I quite appreciate rediculocity.  Good show.

Hussar

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #68 on: June 09, 2010, 04:59:33 AM »
I loved this story.  Ooey gooey loved it.

The cheesy voice, the plot, everything.  This is what a Letter to Penthouse would be, if it were written by food.  Fantastic.  The juxtapositions within the story were what made it for me.  It's funny AND horrifying all at the same time.  Instead of some young stud in a grocery story, it's a snack cake, and the object of the story isn't some hot blond, but some rather unattractive woman you'd never see in this type of story.

By the end of it I was totally blown away.  I kept slipping from one viewpoint to another, from the softcore porn story, to what was actually happening. 

In my head, I kept seeing a very low budget SF show, maybe something like a Twilight Zone episode, where you have these totally normal looking food items being framed by the camera with voice overs and the only thing actually moving would be Linda herself. 

This was a great story.

Kaa

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #69 on: June 10, 2010, 03:49:04 PM »
I enjoyed this one mostly on a purely superficial level. The reading was grade A perfect and for that reason alone it was enjoyable. The humor was top notch, and I enjoyed the double entendres and puns and general language play.

And on that level, I enjoyed it.

I did, however, find some of the other aspects of the story, on a deeper level, quite disturbing. The idea that a company would grant even limited sentience to their foodstuffs, that the store would cater on that level to a specific customer, that they would manipulate the shopper to the level shown in this story, even down to ignoring the fact that she clearly is trying to change her eating habits, but manipulating her emotions using her past habits anyway....

Beyond disturbing to me. It made me squirm a little. And I agree that the suicide at the end was gratuitous, but...I can see why the author chose the ending.

If nothing else, I'll certainly never look at another snack cake again. *shudder*
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Jago Constantine

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #70 on: June 12, 2010, 10:14:02 PM »
We just listened to this episode at Science Fiction Saturday in Second Life ... one thought - are stories where a woman commits suicide by handgun really considered PG-rated by the Escape Pod crew? You mentioned the innuendo in the rating note and for 95% of the story that's the only thing that might require parental guidance, so the suicide at the end really comes out of nowhere. I know it would be hard to rate the story without the risk of spoilers but how about giving people an informed choice?

davedoty

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #71 on: June 13, 2010, 06:13:01 PM »
People die all the time, both in fiction in general and on Escape Pod.  Unless it's extremely graphic (I'd have to relisten to be sure, but I don't remember it being very graphic), I don't think death needs a warning or higher rating.

Jason Creighton

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #72 on: June 15, 2010, 02:24:07 AM »
The ending really fell flat for me.

The main thing that bothered me is that she kills herself for cheating on her diet, even though she didn't actually cheat on her diet! She never actually ate the snack cake. If you can walk to the other room and get a gun, you can just as easily shove the evil talking snack cake down the garbage disposal just like she did with the crackers. (or whatever they were)

And this is nitpicking, but how did she even get a gun? In the world of the story, you would expect that buying a handgun would send up all sorts of red flags in some sentient computer system somewhere. Woman in her 40s, overweight, no living family, no friends (as indicated by, oh, I don't know, low friend count in the late 21st century version of Facebook) goes out and buys a friggin' gun? That would be noticed by some computer system, even if it was just someone who wanted to sell her a cemetery plot.

Talia

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #73 on: June 15, 2010, 02:53:48 AM »
The ending really fell flat for me.

The main thing that bothered me is that she kills herself for cheating on her diet, even though she didn't actually cheat on her diet! She never actually ate the snack cake. If you can walk to the other room and get a gun, you can just as easily shove the evil talking snack cake down the garbage disposal just like she did with the crackers. (or whatever they were)

And this is nitpicking, but how did she even get a gun? In the world of the story, you would expect that buying a handgun would send up all sorts of red flags in some sentient computer system somewhere. Woman in her 40s, overweight, no living family, no friends (as indicated by, oh, I don't know, low friend count in the late 21st century version of Facebook) goes out and buys a friggin' gun? That would be noticed by some computer system, even if it was just someone who wanted to sell her a cemetery plot.

But she knew she was GOING to cheat on her diet. There was no escaping it, rather the only way to escape it was to die. Consider this is a person who is almost certainly mentally ill to a certain degree. Cool logic does not prevail.

secondly, this is a world that's catered to marketing and selling, not necesarily to doing what's best for the consumer. And so what if such a woman wanted to go buy a gun? All those things aren't necesarily indicative of mental illness. The story explores how such computing is used to manipulate people into buying things. The story does not indicate if the computers are used in an orwellian fashion as you suggest, prying into and analyzing her life for purposes other than selling. I mean maybe it is. Who can say? The story merely demonstrates the marketing.

Gamercow

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #74 on: June 16, 2010, 01:55:41 PM »
And this is nitpicking, but how did she even get a gun?

The second amendment.
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Listener

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #75 on: June 17, 2010, 01:10:01 PM »
So... not as farfetched as we were led to believe...

http://gizmodo.com/5565238/oh-good-commercials-are-coming-to-supermarket-aisles
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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #76 on: June 18, 2010, 04:28:02 PM »
Well, I went ahead and finished it, if for no other reason that I've never abandoned an EA story yet, and I've suffered through worse than this.  But it only got worse; the narrative full of lines that could have been dropped seamlessly into a porn story.  Like snack cakes themselves, this story was made of suck.

On an unrelated note, I feel sorry for Gamercow, whose name has been mispronounced twice in the feedback sections now (DKT said "Game-crow" in a recent Podcastle, and now wossname says "Gamer-crow").

LOL, yeah, its actually 3, DKT did it twice, and Bill did it once.  I don't mind much, I'm grateful to be mentioned at all, I was just surprised that two people saw it as "Crow", and had a "THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS" Picard moment. 


I was kind of surprised and amused as well.  Especially since your avatar has a cow in it.  :)

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #77 on: June 18, 2010, 04:42:50 PM »
Overall I liked this one.  Spot-on amazing narration to start with.  Some of the innuendoes were rather over the top, which was funny at first but got a little old as the episode went on.  I don't think the suicide was too much for the story--it was intended to be black comedy from the start, and we saw her dead body at the beginning so it was no sort of surprise.

Everyone seemed to think Smidgen's savior at the end was a dog, but I thought it was pretty clearly a rat.  She never mentioned owning a dog, and I wouldn't think one would be able to get into her house unannounced, while mice/rats have a tendency to slip through cracks and show up uninvited, especially when there's food sitting on the floor.  True, one would think that with all those other advanced technology that they would have intelligent pest control systems, but remember that this society is heavily marketing driven.  Maybe they CAN make a better mouse trap, but don't want to make it TOO good--if you make a perfect mouse trap then no one will have a need to buy any more of your products.  Instead the company makes them incrementally better so they can say "new and improved" and repeat hundreds of times, always adding a little more appeal to draw customers.

I tend to agree with eytanz that the marketing here is implausible, making the purchase a big decision, unless these are very expensive snack cakes, which I don't think they were intended to be.  The health food manufacturers would do better to make their AIs a little more charming like smidgen.  I kind of wanted to throw them down the disposal too, they were like a bunch of bubbly vegetary cheerleaders.

One thing that I really dug about the story is that it didn't fall under the trope of AI-gains-feelings.  Smidgen's feelings were programmed in as motivation to perform certain behaviors.  He desires to be eaten, so he does everything he can to reach this goal and even though this feeling is intentionally programmed in, it's no more artificial than my own emotions which derive from incomprehensible mixes of brain chemistry.  And Smidgen's designers really thought out the emotions too.  "Should we make it capable of grief?"  "Nah, what good would that do?  If its buyer died, it'd sit around and mope until it got moldy.  Let's have it transfer its affection to someone else."  So instead of a robot gaining the ability to feel, it has only selective feelings in-programmed and is both unaware of its lack of guilt and sadness and completely unconcerned by this lack.

mbrennan

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #78 on: June 23, 2010, 08:44:28 PM »
For me, this crossed the line from "amusing" to "profoundly creepy."

As a couple of people have mentioned, Smidgen's behavior very blatantly echoed that of a manipulative stalker -- I almost added "boyfriend" onto that list of descriptors, but he's more like the guy who randomly decides some woman he's never spoken to is his dream girl, and tries to force that relationship into existence, against her will.  (Oh, but she wants it . . . urgh, creepy.)  Also, I was less than pleased to see the story telling us the root cause of Lynda's obesity was purely a lack of impulse control, which led to her overeating.  I don't know a lot about the science of nutrition, but I can tell that's an uncritical reproduction of stereotypes, and it led to me feeling like the story didn't have a lot of sympathy for her -- or rather, it had the wrong kind of sympathy, if that makes sense.  She came across as pathetic in a way I really didn't like.

I had the same objections to plausibility as a bunch of others in this thread, but I'm pretty sure that happened because I'd stopped being amused and started being creeped out.  If I had found this actually funny, instead of a funny veneer over a disturbing story, I would have been much more willing to give it a pass.

Having said that: I don't necessarily think the story being creepy is a failure on its part.  I didn't end up liking it much, but at least it had some interesting things to say.

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Re: EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake
« Reply #79 on: June 24, 2010, 12:53:31 AM »
For me, this crossed the line from "amusing" to "profoundly creepy."

Me too, and that's why I thought it was so good.

It went from entertaining SF to a critique of consumerism to a haunting piece about the fragility of humanity.

All the hapless consumer really needed was to love and be loved, just like any healthy human being. What was so creepy was that Smidgen's designers understood that too, and they used it so ruthlessly and destructively against her.

That's why I thought that the dopey romantic love Smidgen had for her was such a great idea - at first you assume that he's been designed to appeal to her gluttony, but eventually you realise that he's actually been designed to mimic the solution to an emotional need.

This really is a real little gem of a story, both entertaining and thought provoking.