Author Topic: EP247: Bridesicle  (Read 37239 times)

DaveNJ

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #20 on: July 04, 2010, 02:31:38 PM »
Terrific, and I have to agree with the ongoing sentiment that this is the best of the nominees thus far. Haven't gotten to "Spar" yet, but it would have to unseat this, which is solidly my #1 of the Hugo nominees thus far. It's not even a contest between this and the others.

Hitchhiker

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #21 on: July 05, 2010, 01:01:57 PM »
I think this is my favorite EP episode ever. Blew me away when I first listened to it. Superb reading too!

gelee

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #22 on: July 05, 2010, 10:21:00 PM »
I can't believe it's down to me, but I'll have to be the party pooper. Wonderfully read and skillfully written, and I would have liked to get to know the characters a bit more, but I had some issues with this one.
For one, are they really going to put folks in the store with no reference to sexual preference?  Why weren't there any women shopping for a bridesicle?  And really, in 200 years of being able to move a mind from 1 brain to another, they never figured out how to just make a brain or a brain analogue?  Also, why did they have to marry a person to revive them?  Could it really be cheaper to keep someone on ice for eternity than to revive them and cut them loose and garnish their wages until they die again. For me, the whole system just doesn't make sense.
I also feel like this piece just reaches too far for me. Generational conflict, women's rights, gay rights, what we mean by "alive" and "dead," and a lot of other Issues.  Very ambitious, but those are a lot of heavy matters to address in a few thousand words. If you over-reach, it can look like button-pushing, though I don't  think this was the author's intent.  It was just too much for me to swallow in one bite.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2010, 10:33:35 PM by gelee »

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2010, 11:04:00 AM »
Brilliant and, forgive me, 'absorbing.' Loved it.

DToland

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2010, 11:47:55 AM »
I have to wonder how her ordeal would have been different if her sexual orientation were properly recorded.  Would she have been awakened more frequently or less?  However, I doubt she'd have been reunited with her love in that case.

I honestly haven't decided whether I like the story or not.  It may be that the claustrophobic setting is so palpable and contagious.

I'll know better by how securely it lodges in my mind - like a hitcher.
 

ElectricPaladin

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2010, 12:00:38 PM »
For one, are they really going to put folks in the store with no reference to sexual preference?  Why weren't there any women shopping for a bridesicle?  And really, in 200 years of being able to move a mind from 1 brain to another, they never figured out how to just make a brain or a brain analogue?  Also, why did they have to marry a person to revive them?  Could it really be cheaper to keep someone on ice for eternity than to revive them and cut them loose and garnish their wages until they die again. For me, the whole system just doesn't make sense.

My understanding of that was that her sexual orientation would have been covered in her orientation meeting, which was skipped thanks to a clerical error. Probably - admittedly, I'm editorializing here, but I think I've got textual support - if she'd had that meeting she would have been flagged as gay and then women seeking bridesicles would have been the ones to wake her up. Heterosexuals outnumber homosexuals, so in the absence of that flag they just assumed she was straight. This sounds pretty rational to me.

As far as the technology goes... eh. Whatever. I'm not one to care. Just because something seems possible to us, here and now, doesn't mean that it'll prove feasible when the engineers attack the actual problem in the future. I can think of a huge variety of reasons for this particular technological gap. Maybe you need a mature brain to house a mature mind and the only way to create a mature brain is a lifetime of neuron-connection-building experiences? Maybe the brain is something they understand well enough to manipulate but not well enough to reproduce; the brain surgeon of today can manipulate your brain a lot, but couldn't build one with a bucket full of cells.

Finally, the system makes sense to me. I mean, it's easier for a pretty young woman from Russia (or wherever) to make her way to the U.S. as a mail-order bride than it is for her to find someone willing to sponsor her and then take a chunk of her earnings... unless she's willing (or unwilling, and also unlucky) to be a sex worker, that is. People whose wages you're garnishing can disappear, they can sue you and win, they can die early and screw you out of money. Getting a big chunk of change from a lonely man/woman is a much better way to pay off your investment.

I also feel like this piece just reaches too far for me. Generational conflict, women's rights, gay rights, what we mean by "alive" and "dead," and a lot of other Issues.  Very ambitious, but those are a lot of heavy matters to address in a few thousand words. If you over-reach, it can look like button-pushing, though I don't  think this was the author's intent.  It was just too much for me to swallow in one bite.

Didn't have that problem. I thought the issues were pretty well incorporated.
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Schreiber

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2010, 12:03:47 PM »
And really, in 200 years of being able to move a mind from 1 brain to another, they never figured out how to just make a brain or a brain analogue?  Also, why did they have to marry a person to revive them?  Could it really be cheaper to keep someone on ice for eternity than to revive them and cut them loose and garnish their wages until they die again. For me, the whole system just doesn't make sense.

Yeah, I have to agree. I posted earlier about the problem I had with the Absorbing aspect, but your point about how much energy and money it would take to keep a body preserved for centuries compared to the one-time cost of reviving them is a good one. Plus, the way our culture tends to deal with new technology is a little at odds with how it's dealt with here. It seems to me that if a dead body could be reanimated that reliably, it would simply be seen as a form of resuscitation. I mean let's face it, who wouldn't spring for "death" insurance?

CryptoMe

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #27 on: July 06, 2010, 01:55:20 PM »
I mean let's face it, who wouldn't spring for "death" insurance?

Ummm. Maybe those millions of people (in the US alone) who can't afford *Health* Insurance? [Reference]

gateaux

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #28 on: July 06, 2010, 07:59:06 PM »
The characters, plot and setting of "Bridesicles" was completely engrossing. I was there, alongside Mira, in a little frozen box and horrified at the prospect of marrying a desperate man as my only chance to live. Yes, I think this was almost Pseudo Pod material... But I loved it. Fantastic, amazing story and great reading. 10 out of 10 from me.

wakela

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #29 on: July 06, 2010, 08:49:57 PM »
Stories like this are why I like Science Fiction.  A future society finds an interesting use for new technology, and I get to sit and ponder the ramifications of hitching, searching for mates in a morgue, being dead and then alive and then dead again to my heart's content.  I felt empathy with Mira being a basically decent person, but tempted to deceive in order to become reanimated, and desperate to use her few minutes of time to come up with a way out.  Usually time travel stories involve someone arriving at or leaving the present time, but this one had someone travelling from the future to a more distant future, which was a tasty morsel.
Her homosexuality was integral to the story, but it wasn't another tired story about Gay Issues. 

But I absolutely hated the character of Mira's mother and their relationship.  The judgmental, passive-aggressive mother was a typical cliche straight out of a sit-com or Lifetime movie.  I didn't believe that her mother would be judgmental of homosexuals 100s (?) of years in the future.   Mira disliked her mother, allowed her to hitch just to be polite, and then killed herself to escape.  I would never pick someone with such a dysfunctional relationship with their mother to raise my child.  And I don't even think this was necessary.  Couldn't you have the same story without Mira's mother?  Or without the unhealthy relationship?   This was like walking through a wonderful art gallery and coming across a picture of a sad clown.  But fortunately, the mother didn't kill the story for me.  There were enough other aspects to enjoy.

mbrennan

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #30 on: July 06, 2010, 09:52:29 PM »
What a (fabulously) horrific story.

Just trying to imagine myself in Mira's place made my skin crawl; I decided a few minutes in that if I were to wake up as a bridesicle, I'd opt for death on the spot.  (But was she even *allowed* that option?)  This one absolutely wins on an emotional level.  Panic, desperation, hope . . . really well-done.

I did have two quibbles, but neither of them was strong enough to really detract from the story.  First, I felt like Mira came to terms with her situation too rapidly: "you died! Eighty years ago! And now your only way out of this circle of hell is to prostitute yourself to a stranger!"  I kind of felt like she should have gone straight into a hysterical screaming fit, before starting to process her situation and think strategically.  But given that she was only able to think while awake, that would have seriously derailed the story's forward progress, so I let it slide.  Second, as others have said, there could have been more sense of society having changed in the twenty-third, twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth centuries, but aside from hitchers and the orange lawyer (and the bridesicle thing itself), nothing seemed very different.  There are still excruciatingly boring company parties, the mother still didn't approve of the gay daughter, and fat people still go to Weight Watchers meetings.  I don't want a lot of exposition about what the world is like outside Mira's extremely limited perspective, but as it stood, those touches made it feel like if Mira could just turn her head, she'd see the early twenty-first century past the edges of the frame.

As I said, though, neither of those kept me from enjoying the story.  It echoed a wide variety of topics: mail-order brides, prostitution, horrible dating services, parental care, health insurance nightmares, etc, all without reducing itself to a SFnal allegory of any single thing.  Excellent work, and I absolutely ditto those who say this has been the best of the Hugo stories so far.

Listener

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #31 on: July 07, 2010, 12:55:39 PM »
I can totally see the plausibility of this:

* Bridesicles: if you get a discount on your insurance, why not add the rider? Maybe you could be revived later, and maybe even by someone you know and love.

* Hitchers: guilt trips that force people to let their loved ones download their brains into other people.

The SF element of the story, to my mind, wasn't that it took place in the future, but that death has been so devalued (and maybe that's even horror, to some extent). If there's no true fear of death (Lycan's grandson said there was at least one unrevivable illness), then why live? Why make your mark? As a hitcher, you could work with your borrowed body to write a great novel. As an actor or actress, if you OD on drugs, well, your body can be revived.

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Wilson Fowlie

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #32 on: July 07, 2010, 02:07:38 PM »
This is definitely my favourite of all of the Hugo nominees (and yes, I did read "Spar").  I shall be bitterly disappointed if "Bridesicle" doesn't win.  (That being said, I, like DKT above, am interested to see what EP listeners think of "Spar"...)

I enjoyed listening to it a lot (though sadly, the audio quality wasn't as good as the reading).

At the time I noticed, in passing, a couple of the issues that people have mentioned (particularly, why doesn't she find a way to let the admins know that that she's gay?  Can't she ask her wakers to tell someone she hasn't had the orientation?), but really, in order to tell this story, it just would have meant more words to patch this.

Not everything can be told in a short story (or even in a novel!), so if you want the story, sometimes you just have to let unimportant (in my opinion) details slide.  For others, those same details might be deal-breakers, but I thought they just got out of the way to let this story be told.
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eytanz

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #33 on: July 09, 2010, 03:37:10 PM »
So. On many levels, I really liked this story. Well told (and well read), on a very human scale, exploring the consequences of technology on the people who got caught up in its progress.

But it did bother me, as others pointed out, that other than the hitcher and bridesicle technologies themselves, the people here really seemed to be trapped into late-twentieth/early twenty-first century attitudes, and nothing seemed to change. Some things could have just been a matter of the story's focus - was there also a groomsicle facility somewhere? Men were just as likely to die young as women, and I can easily believe that such a facility exists and that it was just never mentioned because it was irrelevant. But I find it hard to believe that attitudes towards homosexuality remain stuck for 450 years from now. I can believe they get better, and I can believe they may get worse, but I can't believe that "culturally acceptable yet disapproved of by many" is a stable state. And - though this is a far lesser pointy - I also don't believe that in the 23rd century, it will be possible to kill yourself by driving into something; we're already getting close to cars that are smart enough to prevent some accidents, with 250 years of progress probably car accidents will be exceedingly rare and never caused by self-destructive behavior on behalf of the driver.

Still, the good parts of the story outweigh its problems, which is more than I can say for the three other hugo nominees I've heard (I've yet to get to Spar).

eytanz

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #34 on: July 10, 2010, 10:24:32 AM »
So, about a day has passed since I posted the above comment, and in the interim I've changed my stance a bit. Yes, this story is very much about late-20th/early-21st century society + future tech, not about future society. What I came to realize is - so what? There is a room for this type of story too. Not every story needs to portray a realistic future. There are interesting things to be said about our own society by just changing one or two things about it. So yes, I think the story may have made a misstep by mentioning specific dates, as those sort of grounded the story in a specific timeline, and highlighted the mismatch between technological progress and lack of cultural progress, but a day after I listened to the story I find this issue receding into the background and my impression of the story more favourable.

Sandikal

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #35 on: July 10, 2010, 11:10:27 AM »
Eytanz, I think that it's not impossible to think that there would be a stigma on homosexuality hundreds of years in the future.  Sexual mores tend to have a cyclical nature.  One era may accept it as a variation of the norm, as the ancient Greeks, the next may view it as a sign of the end of civilization.  This applies not only to homosexuality, but other sexual behaviors as well.

I also don't think it's unreasonable to our protagonist here to worry about exposing her sexual orientation in this instance either.  First, she comes from an upbringing where it was a taboo.  She had her mother literally in her head telling her it was wrong.  Second, she's in a facility that's used by men looking for (heterosexual) wives.  If she reveals that she's a lesbian, she will never be revived.  It's entirely possible that homosexuality is okay in the society she wakes up in, just not under the circumstances she's in.

I think what bothers me more about this story than the implication that men want women who will be dependent on them for their very lives.  The men who visit the bridesicle facility have control over life itself for these women.  It's clear that there are still women in the world who aren't dead, but these men are choosing to look for a bride in a morgue.  The implications of that are horrifying.  At best, it's the extrapolation of modern men who go to Asia or South America to find brides who will be subservient to them.  At worst, it's slavery.

eytanz

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #36 on: July 10, 2010, 11:22:43 AM »
Eytanz, I think that it's not impossible to think that there would be a stigma on homosexuality hundreds of years in the future.  Sexual mores tend to have a cyclical nature.  One era may accept it as a variation of the norm, as the ancient Greeks, the next may view it as a sign of the end of civilization.  This applies not only to homosexuality, but other sexual behaviors as well.

I certainly believe that there can be a stigma on homosexuality in the future. What I can't believe is that the stigma will remain similar to what it is now. Currently, our society is very much in a transition phase, a clash between an older attitude of homosexuality as deviant and shameful and a newer one that accepts it as normal. I can easily believe that either will win. I can view a future in which being gay is totally normal, and I can view a future where gay people are stoned to death by cheering crowds. What I find hard to believe is a future where a daughter can be openly gay but her mother disapproving about it. I mean, sure, it could be that in the 200+ years until the Mira's death homosexuality becomes stigmatized again and then reaccepted so that the attitudes between the generations mirror those between me and my mother (I happen to be straight, but one of my mom's best friends has a gay son, and when he came out I had to repeatedly hear how my mom was relieved she wasn't in her friend's shoes).

Quote
I also don't think it's unreasonable to our protagonist here to worry about exposing her sexual orientation in this instance either. 

I didn't find that unreasonable either. Like someone else posted above (sorry, forgot to lookup who that was before starting the post), what bothers me is not the way Mira handles things, but the way homosexuality is represented as a source of tension between generations (and not the fact that it is a source of tension, but the *way* it is a source of tension). This very much feels like it arises because of a shift in attitude during the lifetime of the mother, and, as I say above, I just find it implausible that two identical shifts like that would happen in a space of 300 years.

Sandikal

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #37 on: July 10, 2010, 11:27:52 AM »
The question may be whether the mother's disapproval is a generational thing or whether it's because it just doesn't fit with her preconceptions of what she wants for her daughter.  The mother's attitude seems to be more one of denial than condemnation.  She keeps trying to re-direct her towards men.

eytanz

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #38 on: July 10, 2010, 11:42:46 AM »
The question may be whether the mother's disapproval is a generational thing or whether it's because it just doesn't fit with her preconceptions of what she wants for her daughter.  The mother's attitude seems to be more one of denial than condemnation.  She keeps trying to re-direct her towards men.

I don't think the two are unrelated - I mean, in a society where being gay is considered entirely natural, why would the mother want her daughter to not be gay? I mean, sure, it's possible that the mom was really old-fashioned, but the story didn't suggest that.

It seems far more plausible to me to interpret the story as simply lifting our social experiences and placing them in the future. It's hardly the first story to do that, and will not be the last. I now think I was originally too harsh in my evaluation of this, but I still think it's the case.

deflective

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Re: EP247: Bridesicle
« Reply #39 on: July 10, 2010, 10:01:54 PM »
there is solid writing here and i largely enjoyed the story but it also contained one of my pet peeves, so that's what i'm gonna talk about.  because that's what i do.

for a while now a large portion of scifi has been fixated on cautionary tales.  this is understandable since we're living in a time when technological advancement has vastly changed our planet in unforeseen ways but, unfortunately, a lot of cautionary tales set up technology as an antagonistic force.  demoralizing, dehumanizing technologies that are universally adopted by future societies.

in this case, cryogenics turn women into literal slabs of meat to be perused by male social pariahs.

except that isn't what happened, it's just the way the story was told.  the actual antagonistic force was hidden in two briefly mentioned details that were glossed over in the story: she wasn't given an orientation the first time she was woken up and she was frozen because of the small print in her insurance.  because of this, bridesicle status was inflicted on her without permission.

this is a common tactic in cautionary tales were the protagonist falls victim to a future technology.  The story spends large amounts time describing how the technology dehumanizes people and demoralizes the character but, when read closely, the story actually needed the dehumanizing force to be societal (or even misfortunate) and it just doesn't make that clear.

cryogenics gave people a second chance at life they never would've had without it, the 'ice-order brides' program gave people the opportunity to wake up earlier than they would have otherwise.  like mail-order brides now, it's an opportunity for two people to try to (unconventionally) improve their lives.  it only becomes a problem when one of them is coerced or taken advantage of.

the helpless dilemma Mira was forced to endure wasn't the result of being frozen, it was the result of constantly being partially thawed and refrozen.  if she had opted out the program the first time she was woken up she could have avoided the whole problem, waiting for some future time when her body's reconstruction was within the means of a charitable organization.