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Author Topic: EP243: I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno  (Read 8908 times)
Swamp
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« on: June 01, 2010, 08:06:02 AM »

EP243: I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno

By Vylar Kaftan.
Read by Mur Lafferty

Simultaneously appearing in Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 1, June 1, 2010.

I knew you loved me, of course. It was written in your eyes when you looked at me, a physics problem with no clear answer. If an irresistible force meets an immovable object, what happens then?

They meet. That’s all we know. Relative to each other, they are in contact. From within the object or the force, there is no way to tell if you’re in motion.


Rated PG-13. for sexual description.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2010, 10:21:45 AM »

I had three problems with this story:

1. The addition of the sci-fi element really didn't improve the story for me in any way. This was basically a "I'm single and you're not; you're single and I'm not; we get together and break up and love each other and can't be together even though we should be" story. As I listened, all I could think of was how much better the story would've been without the near-lightspeed time dilation factor.

2. I've seen this done in anime before. I forget the name, but it's about a couple of teenagers in love. She goes off on a mission to somewhere far away, and he remains in love with her even though, due to time dilation, he grows old while she remains a teenager.

3. I didn't feel that this was the best reader for the story. Maybe that's a personal choice, but her voice has a wry timbre to it that didn't fit the feel of the story.

The scienc-y aspects haven't been done so many times that the idea is overused or hackneyed, and maybe the story was picked because the writing is good and it fits the theme of the publication (a story about lightspeed in a magazine called Lightspeed? BRILLIANT!), but I just didn't like this one very much.

(Or maybe my expectations for this author have been overly heightened by the fact that she wrote a story about poop. Given that my inner 12-year-old runs my brain's sense of humor department, it's entirely possible.)
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Alasdair5000
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« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2010, 10:59:27 AM »

You're thinking of Voices of a Distant Star I believe:)
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Swamp
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« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2010, 12:29:19 PM »

I am very excited about Lightspeed Magazine!  It's great that Escape Pod can be part of its debut!  Live long Escape Pod!  Live long Lightspeed!
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« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2010, 01:13:38 PM »

You're thinking of Voices of a Distant Star I believe:)

That's the one.
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2010, 04:08:01 PM »

I agree with Listener to a point, but the truth is there's no particular reason why this story didn't work for me. Plenty of great science fiction previously used tropes and to produce something that feel fresh and exciting. The magic just didn't happen here.
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KenK
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2010, 06:06:04 PM »

A classic of the sci-fi genre, the very definition of it really. A story that blended a classic love theme with astro-physics and relativity theory. Nice job.  Cheesy
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ewagoner
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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2010, 09:16:19 AM »

I guess I'm the inverse of Listener and Schreiber. There's no particular reason why this story did work for me, but it did. Very much. Maybe it's just my circumstances (a degree in Astrophysics, several relationships with fellow students similar to those in the story, and Mur just sounds like she'd have fit in wonderfully with the rest of us there). The story brought on a combined sense of joyful nostalgia and wistfulness that I really, really appreciated.
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2010, 09:24:18 AM »

I enjoyed all the little references to physics and relativity, and how they were worked into the story.  But the story itself... meh.
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yicheng
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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2010, 10:48:54 AM »

This story fell a bit flat for me as well.  The way the story was related felt very lecture-like and lacking in action.  It was a lot like "this happened, and then this happened, and on yeah, this other thing happened, and some vague attempt to talk about physics".  The frequent attempts to use physics and relativity as metaphors felt cheesy and superfluous, rather than profound or insightful.  It was like if someone googled for "physics puns relativity metaphors" and injected the search results at various into the story.  I also found the narrator character to be very disingenuous.  She claims to have had a very happy marriage, but it's obviously a sham as she continues to think about her space-travelling boyfriend.  When she reached AI-sentience she doesn't denote any thought to Gunther (who I guess is just off somewhere doing his own thing) and pines about the boyfriend instead.  Her continual references to the detail of her intimate sexual encounters felt really inappropriate and out of place, at least for me.  That's just not something I would ever want to hear, nor would bring up to my ex.  "Oh yeah, how have you been?  Fancy running into you here!  You know I got married?  Yeah.  He totally loves to bang me from the pile-driver position and then finish in doggy style."  OMG TMI?

Finally, I don't get how the guy's mind as supposed to be downloaded by an AI if he was cremated as ashes, or did I miss something?   (I probably did)
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Listener
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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2010, 12:14:34 PM »

Her continual references to the detail of her intimate sexual encounters felt really inappropriate and out of place, at least for me.  That's just not something I would ever want to hear, nor would bring up to my ex.  "Oh yeah, how have you been?  Fancy running into you here!  You know I got married?  Yeah.  He totally loves to bang me from the pile-driver position and then finish in doggy style."  OMG TMI?

If they're best friends, it might not be outside the realm of possibility. I have a couple of female friends that, in another life, we might have dated had one or the other of us not been in a relationship when the other was single. We're extremely close friends, though, and do share intimate details like that. (Although, to cut down on the creepiness factor, I always let them bring it up first. Roll Eyes )
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gelee
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2010, 12:23:10 PM »

I have to disagree with Listener on this one.  I think the time dilation element definately added something to the story.  The central problem for our lovers here seems to be that, even when they are in the same place in space, they never seem to be in the same place in their lives, or in time, as it were.  Thanks to the time lag, and the cryogenic suspension, each has the oppurtunity to catch up with the other at various points.  They still don't quite manage to get things together, but our narrator figures out that, eventually, all our lives are heading to the same place, and that she can catch him there.  In Reno.
I'm a sucker for a well-turned phrase, and this story was full of them.  Lovely writing.  The physics references were great and helped give us insight into the character of the narrator, something oddly hard to do in first person narratives without the speaker talking to themselves all the time, a la Harry Dresden.  I think this would be a great SF story for people who don't normally like SF.
So, yes.  This was a win for me.
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Hysteria
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« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2010, 01:01:10 PM »

While I liked this story overall, the more I think about this story the more I feel sorry for Gunther. Maybe it's just my sympathy for the underdog kicking in, and I get how he could not come back from the dead to be reunited with the narrator, but the narrator really makes him seem as though he were just a way to pass the time until her first love came back, or a way for the narrator to demonstrate to herself everything she missed about her first love. Maybe it's just hard not to wince at the suggestion that the overall story arc was have a tumultuous, rocky relationship with your first love, settle down with a nice guy and then spend eternity in the tumultuous rocky relationship instead.

On the other hand, I am a fan of the star-crossed lovers, and while this was really not typical for star-crossed lovers I think it did rather well. It definitely was not Voices of a Distant Star, though. It was a similar setup, but I think the theme was entirely different.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2010, 06:28:24 AM »

Shorter intros :-)
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« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2010, 10:54:00 AM »

Argh, everyone beat me to the Voices of a Distant Star reference (I once showed that film to a friend who, after a long pause, turned to me and said, "that was the single most beautiful, and alienating, experience I can remember. It makes me want to go out into a field of wildflowers and kill myself.")
As for this episode: I might've liked this story if it was the first, or even the fourth story about the romantic complications of relativistic space travel I had encountered (The two best I can think of are VoaDS as already mentioned and...someone help me out here, it's in Hyperion but I forget whose tale it is).
As it is, there were too many ingredients in here for such a short story, plus some fairly daring or ill-advised choices made in pursuit of a 'wise' and experienced voice. A few issues:
-You will always seriously threaten the narrator's credibility when you have them write off their spouse and/or children as unimportant. The idea that after twenty-five years of apparently happy marriage and two children a character would be ready to go back to mooning over a f***ed-up dysfuctional relationship from when she was twenty-something takes me straight out of the narrative.
-As already implied, this was a f***ed-up dysfuctional relationship. This is a story about people who were so cavalier about each other's feelings and concerns that they regularly chose to visit different star systems without really consuling one another. Hard for me to root for love when it sounds a lot more like unhealthy obsession.
-Post-humanism is still being hashed out in the zeitgeist, having the solution to the story be 'Don't worry, we'll be together again when both our consciousnesses are downloaded into the great computer' does not resolve anything as far as I'm concerned.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2010, 11:16:28 AM by blueeyeddevil » Logged
stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2010, 11:52:23 AM »

Argh, everyone beat me to the Voices of a Distant Star reference (I once showed that film to a friend who, after a long pause, turned to me and said, "that was the single most beautiful, and alienating, experience I can remember. It makes me want to go out into a field of wildflowers and kill myself.")

Bleh... NetFlix doesn't have it available (the button says "SAVE"; I've got stuff that's been in my "SAVED" list for years.)  Sad
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2010, 12:06:15 PM »

... this was a f***ed-up dysfuctional relationship. This is a story about people who were so cavalier about each other's feelings and concerns that they regularly chose to visit different star systems without really consulting one another. Hard for me to root for love when it sounds a lot more like unhealthy obsession.

Yup, that was my main problem with the story. You basically have a couple of people who continually make bad choices about their relationship, over and over again. That's not romantic, that's pathetic. And I have no sympathy for them.
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2010, 05:17:32 PM »

This story reminded me a little of movies like Sleepless in Seattle or John Cusack/Kate Beckinsale's Serendipity, but longer (in story-time) and with Relativity Added for More Crunch!

I did enjoy the science references, particularly the part where the main character said that no, he was the electron, and why.  But I never got to the point where I was rooting for anything in particular to happen (or not).

I have to wonder, now that I'm thinking about it again, if it was the second person point of view that was, at least in part, responsible for my indifference.  I didn't really notice the point of view at the time, which is a plus, but I always notice second person when I try to comment on a story with it, because I have to think about how to refer to the character into whose place I was put.



Shorter intros :-)

There are shorter intros and you are happy about it?
You want shorter intros and were taking out the sting of demanding it?
'Shorter intros' was a shorter intro and you were smiling at your own joke?
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« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2010, 11:48:32 PM »

A well-balanced title is a joy forever.  Well done, that bit.

I enjoyed the story.  I think it's a mistake to read the characters as making bad decisions so much as never being at the right place for each other.  They never had much of a stable relationship; they were orbiting, decaying, or ionizing throughout the whole story.  It's not that they kept throwing away what they had for no reason, but that they didn't have anything to build on.  He goes off for adventure during their downtime, when she's looking to settle down and thus not interested in being with him.  When he comes back, he's matured a bit, but she's now ready to be adventuresome after a lifetime of stability (not to mention more than a little hurt by his original departure) and on and on.  It ends when everything ends and the Singularity hits.

This story gets a win from me for using the Singularity as a relationship metaphor alone.  The nice writing and understated drama was just icing.
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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2010, 10:56:46 AM »

Argh, everyone beat me to the Voices of a Distant Star reference (I once showed that film to a friend who, after a long pause, turned to me and said, "that was the single most beautiful, and alienating, experience I can remember. It makes me want to go out into a field of wildflowers and kill myself.")

Bleh... NetFlix doesn't have it available (the button says "SAVE"; I've got stuff that's been in my "SAVED" list for years.)  Sad

It's on youtube. Though I hope many people will put it on their Netflix queue to hopefully encourage NF to buy new copies. It's beautiful work, like all of Makoto Shinkai's stuff, and deserves the reward, plus it's better enjoyed in better resolution.

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