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Author Topic: EP247: Bridesicle  (Read 18842 times)
Swamp
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« on: July 01, 2010, 01:09:08 AM »

EP247: Bridesicle

By Will McIntosh

2010 Hugo Award Winner

Read by Amy H. Sturgis of StarShipSofa

Originally published in: Asimov’sDownload and read the text

Guest Host: Ben Phillips of Pseudopod

“Aw, I know you’re awake by now. Come on, sleeping beauty. Talk to me.” The last was a whisper, a lover’s words, and Mira felt that she had to come awake and open her eyes. She tried to sigh, but no breath came. Her eyes flew open in alarm.

An old man was leaning over her, smiling, but Mira barely saw him, because when she opened her mouth to inhale, her jaw squealed like a sea bird’s cry, and no breath came, and she wanted to press her hands to the sides of her face, but her hands wouldn’t come either. Nothing would move except her face.


Rated PG


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: September 05, 2010, 08:49:35 AM by Heradel » Logged

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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2010, 01:08:52 PM »

Words can scarcely describe how happy I am to see this story in the Hugo lineup.

This story has wit, poignancy, brilliant engagement with its speculative elements (including a brutally honest assessment of the possible problems associated with achieveing mental singularity), and a complex/bittersweet and emotionally realistic happy ending. Moreover, there are well-thought-out, well-engaged exploration of sexual power struggles, social conformity pressures, and the literal objectification of women. I could go into every detail, but I don't think it's necessary.

I love this story.

Yes for the Hugo. I repeat: Yes for the Hugo.
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bumdhar
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2010, 01:17:03 PM »

I concur with all blueeyeddevil said above.

It would be interesting to know the societal back ground that would allow such a practice to exist. Where’s the ACLU, goddamn it! Rights for the dead!

Best sentence: “He told Mira that he would see her on Tuesday, and killed her.”

I liked this story. In my opinion it’s the best Hugo nomination so far. 
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2010, 03:30:03 PM »

Except for the endearing ending - made slightly horrible by the idea that the lovers would be reunited only through horrific brain merger - this could have been a Pseudopod episode. This future sounds incredibly frightening, terrible, terrifying. I'd never want to live there.

I loved the story.

I agree that it's the best the Hugo nominees so far. I can't wait for the last.
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Schreiber
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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2010, 06:29:59 PM »

I thought this piece was wonderfully ambitious. Mira's fear and her will to live were visceral. Her pride in the face of her humiliating powerlessness as activated in a deft and engaging way. But there were a few things that held "Bridesicle" back from being a really outstanding story.

McIntosh tied one hand behind his back by choosing to tell the story from Mira's severely limited perspective. But I think that with a little more imagination he  could have used this limitation to his advantage. ("What year is it?" "2345." vs. "What year is it?" "Year? Year? Oh, how quaint!"). Instead, he just worked around it. More than a century goes by, but nothing significant changes in the outside world. The grandson's orange skin and futuristic garb were kind of a flaccid attempt to show that the times, they were a-changin' without making Mira and the men in her death actually comprehend the world in different ways.  To paraphrase Steve Eley regarding Knights of the Old Republic, a civilization that doesn't change throughout the generations is kind of...leotarded.

I could forgive the idea that language, laws, and relationships all remain stagnant over the one hundred plus years of Mira's death, except that the innovation of mental singularity seems like such a game changer. How would a century of this practice fail to utterly transform the nature of identity, individuality, and social hierarchy? How many votes would a man with 29 Hitchers get? What does a PhD in physics do when all the jobs are taken by people who've got twelve of them rattling around in their brains? After enough time, how would the Hitcherless ever hope to compete with the, um...Hitched...in anything that has to do with experience, wisdom or plain old knowledge?

It's not that I think the subject can't be tackled or that it can't be tackled in an approachable way. James Kelly's "Candy Art" had a very humorous take on the consequences of digitized consciousness, even though his spectral baby boomers made use of "puppets" rather than their offspring. I still remember laughing a little nervously at the narrator's inner monologue: "You don't die! You own everything, and you don't die!"

Long story short: I thought the mechanics of reviving people from premature deaths and how bodies are doomed to wear out were well established, but that the Hitchers aspect of the story just raised more questions than it helpfully answered. Maybe that sounds picky, but sci-fi is not a buffet table.
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Talia
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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2010, 06:40:57 PM »

I thought this piece was wonderfully ambitious. Mira's fear and her will to live were visceral. Her pride in the face of her humiliating powerlessness as activated in a deft and engaging way. But there were a few things that held "Bridesicle" back from being a really outstanding story.

McIntosh tied one hand behind his back by choosing to tell the story from Mira's severely limited perspective. But I think that with a little more imagination he  could have used this limitation to his advantage. ("What year is it?" "2345." vs. "What year is it?" "Year? Year? Oh, how quaint!"). Instead, he just worked around it. More than a century goes by, but nothing significant changes in the outside world. The grandson's orange skin and futuristic garb were kind of a flaccid attempt to show that the times, they were a-changin' without making Mira and the men in her death actually comprehend the world in different ways.  To paraphrase Steve Eley regarding Knights of the Old Republic, a civilization that doesn't change throughout the generations is kind of...leotarded.

I could forgive the idea that language, laws, and relationships all remain stagnant over the one hundred plus years of Mira's death, except that the innovation of mental singularity seems like such a game changer. How would a century of this practice fail to utterly transform the nature of identity, individuality, and social hierarchy? How many votes would a man with 29 Hitchers get? What does a PhD in physics do when all the jobs are taken by people who've got twelve of them rattling around in their brains? After enough time, how would the Hitcherless ever hope to compete with the, um...Hitched...in anything that has to do with experience, wisdom or plain old knowledge?

It's not that I think the subject can't be tackled or that it can't be tackled in an approachable way. James Kelly's "Candy Art" had a very humorous take on the consequences of digitized consciousness, even though his spectral baby boomers made use of "puppets" rather than their offspring. I still remember laughing a little nervously at the narrator's inner monologue: "You don't die! You own everything, and you don't die!"

Long story short: I thought the mechanics of reviving people from premature deaths and how bodies are doomed to wear out were well established, but that the Hitchers aspect of the story just raised more questions than it helpfully answered. Maybe that sounds picky, but sci-fi is not a buffet table.

Thing is this wasn't a story about the technology, or society.

This was a love story. Smiley Which is why I feel those other questions don't need to be answered.
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Schreiber
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2010, 07:02:08 PM »


Thing is this wasn't a story about the technology, or society.

This was a love story. Smiley Which is why I feel those other questions don't need to be answered.

Kind of my point. The conceit of "Hitching" distracted me from the emotional arc of the story and didn't really add anything worthwhile. The nattering of the Mira's mother from inside her head and the one-sided conversation Lycan (sp?) had with his grandmother didn't justify the attention McIntosh insisted we pay them.
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KaylingR
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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2010, 08:57:02 PM »

I was in tears listening to this. 

Beautiful.
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Kaa
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2010, 10:09:25 AM »

If this doesn't win the Hugo, then something is wrong with the selection process. It is by far the best of the five stories.

Jumping on the "technology" sidetrack, what Mira said about having a hitcher resonated with me. It would CREEP ME OUT to have my mother or father or...well, anyone, really...riding along inside my head. I have to have my alone time. With a hitcher, you could never, ever shut out the voices. If McIntosh were to write a slightly different story set in the same world, I could easily see it showing up on Pseudopod. In fact, the prequel telling Mira's story up to the point of her wreck would be sufficient. Her mother sounds like a true horror.
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2010, 10:39:32 AM »

If this doesn't win the Hugo, then something is wrong with the selection process. It is by far the best of the five stories.

I'm curious: have you already read/listened to the last nominee - "Spar" - elsewhere? (I imagine some of the listeners here have, but am guessing not the majority.) Or did you mean the best thus far?
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Kaa
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2010, 10:42:16 AM »

Or did you mean the best thus far?

I miscounted. I thought this WAS the last of the five. Still, the last one's going to have to really impress me to top this one.
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2010, 10:54:41 AM »

Ah, cool. I'm not sure you'll like it more, but I'm excited to see how people react to it.
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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2010, 12:59:26 PM »

Ah, cool. I'm not sure you'll like it more, but I'm excited to see how people react to it.
Having already listened to it on Clarkesworld, way back, I'm predicting an utter polarity of opinion. Sorry, I know, save it for when you air it...
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sTalking_goat
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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2010, 01:41:05 PM »

This could have been a Pseudopod episode. This future sounds incredibly frightening, terrible, terrifying. I'd never want to live there.

I'm with you on this one. I love my mother but if I had to live with her in my head I'd probably ram my car into a brick wall too.

*shudder*
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2010, 02:46:44 PM »

...Moreover, there are well-thought-out, well-engaged exploration of sexual power struggles, social conformity pressures, and the literal objectification of women. ...

Interesting. I didn't consider this as objectification of women, per se, just of dead people. I automatically assumed there was also a groomsicle version somewhere too. Certainly men aren't the only ones who would look for love among the dead. And I can't imagine that the author meant to imply only men had enough money to do so. So, there must be a groomsicle version somewhere, it just doesn't enter into the story.
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RKG
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« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2010, 03:04:48 PM »

"Tell him what he's won, Johnny"       
"Will will be the toast of Worldcon... with his brand new HUGO AWARD!!"

Will is now the author of two of my all-time favorite EP episodes.  Completely awesome.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 03:22:41 PM by RKG » Logged

contra
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« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2010, 05:24:28 PM »

I also loved this one.

It was brilliant and well told.  I also have issues with the concept of hitching, but I could overlook it so not too many issues there. 
I thought when she revealed her sexuality, there would be more conflict and more issues assosiated with that.  But as a way to wrap up the story it worked perfectly fine.


Also thoughts on the end.
I took it as she told it, and it was a nice ending.
Then as I went back to work, and as I did it occured to me that she could be lying (for now at least); after all it's years between visits for most people, and it was mentioned the moment of being killed over and over was terrifying, horrible and all hope dies.  She could have just been giving her hope for now; until she could afford to do the hitching thing; as it is the only thing she could do for her (again, for now)


As for the legal issues with dead people.  Many legal things do say until legal death.  And in a world where life and dead is a click away on a machine, you have to redefine what being alive is, and being alive for now means.  You probably wouldn't give dead people their lives back, as it would create chaos for wills, sucession and life insurance payments.  By giving the dead people no rights unless they are fully alive again, you get to avoid most of that.
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« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2010, 08:51:23 PM »

Story: 10
Audio Quality: 9

Superb!
=)
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DarkKnightJRK
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« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2010, 01:35:57 PM »

Holy CRAP that was amazing--quite possibly the most horrifying story I've heard here on Escape Pod, while still making for a happy ending, no matter how bittersweet. Definitely one of the best of the Hugo nominated works.
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Sandikal
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« Reply #19 on: July 04, 2010, 11:56:26 AM »

I first hear this when they played it on Starship Sofa.  It's even better on second listen.  It's the best of the nominees so far by a huge margin.

Once "Spar" comes out, can we have a poll about which story Escape Pod listeners think should win the Hugo?  I'd like to see what we come up with.
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