Escape Artists
July 24, 2014, 08:00:37 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10
  Print  
Author Topic: EP248: Spar  (Read 28170 times)
Swamp
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2217



WWW
« on: July 08, 2010, 01:33:11 AM »

EP248: Spar

By Kij Johnson

Read by Kate Baker of Clarkesworld Magazine

Originally published in: ClarkesworldDownload and read the text

The alien is not humanoid. It is not bipedal. It has cilia. It has no bones, or perhaps it does and she cannot feel them. Its muscles, or what might be muscles, are rings and not strands. Its skin is the color of dusk and covered with a clear thin slime that tastes of snot. It makes no sounds. She thinks it smells like wet leaves in winter, but after a time she cannot remember that smell, or leaves, or winter.

Its Ins and Outs change. There are dark slashes and permanent knobs that sometimes distend, but it is always growing new Outs, hollowing new Ins. It cleaves easily in both senses.

It penetrates her a thousand ways. She penetrates it, as well.


Rated X.  Graphic language and sexual situations. Not for kids. Seriously.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
Logged

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast
Scattercat
Caution:
Editor
*****
Posts: 4157


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2010, 08:39:22 AM »

Man, this story even made it to Metafilter (where a lot of people didn't get it at all.)

I'm eager to hear the audio version.  The print version really stuck with me.
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
KenK
Guest
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2010, 10:50:10 AM »

Even creepier than Bridesicle was. If this one wins a Hugo it will both elevate and degrade the whole process at the same time. A win for Spar would be like a triple-X porn film winning an Oscar. Interesting times we live in.
Logged
Scattercat
Caution:
Editor
*****
Posts: 4157


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2010, 11:08:56 AM »

 Shocked

..."Spar" is not pornography. 

Pornography is intended to titillate.  One consumes pornography for a sexual thrill.  "Spar" is not about titillating or eroticizing much of anything.  The presence of the word "fuck" and the act of sex does not make something erotic or sexual.
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
KenK
Guest
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2010, 12:04:46 PM »

@ Scattercat
I never said it was porn. I said it was creepy, which IMHO it is.
Logged
Yargling
Peltast
***
Posts: 139



« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2010, 03:10:31 PM »

No comment on the story this week as I decided to skip this one and just listen to the meta - Only comment to add about the meta is that I would not accept the word of Orson Scott Card without backing from somewhere else when it comes to matters of sex as the man is an extremely active homophobe.
Logged
gelee
Lochage
*****
Posts: 520


It's a missile, boy.


« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2010, 04:45:36 PM »

First, nice reading by Kate Baker.  I've only started listening to their 'cast recently, so I hadn't heard this before.
The story itself, while a nicley crafted piece of writing, just didn't have enough 'story' for my tastes.  To me, it seemed more of a thought experiment than an actual story.  I kept waiting or something to happen, and then the piece ended.  The premise is utterly horrifying, and I think it would have been right at home over at PP.
I understand that the MC had been more or less stripped of personality, and nearly her mind, by her ordeal, but what was left wasn't much of a character, awful as her situation was.  Gary was certainly the lucky one.  I might have been able to connect to the story better if it had started before the collision, but as it was, everything was pretty much done by the time we see the scenario.  So, a well written scene, but it just doesn't hit me as a story.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2010, 06:30:44 PM by gelee » Logged
Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2938


Part-Time Psychopomp.


« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2010, 05:02:46 PM »

If this one wins a Hugo it will both elevate and degrade the whole process at the same time. A win for Spar would be like a triple-X porn film winning an Oscar.
@ Scattercat
I never said it was porn. I said it was creepy, which IMHO it is.

Er, you didn't? Kinda reads like you did.
Logged

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 784


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2010, 05:55:59 PM »

Wow, that was the least sexy story about sex that I have ever heard, and I've heard a lot of stories about sex, sexy and otherwise. Wow.

But, of course, it wasn't really about sex. It was about love and grief and communication and alienness. This is definitely a beautiful-ugly story, in the tradition of some of the best science fiction has offered, and I loved it. I think the only thing I didn't like - the only thing I would have done differently - is the end. I think the story would have been stronger if the character had gotten herself out of her mess rather than simply being rescued. I kept on waiting for her to find a way to turn the endless fucking into communication and win her own way free.

The ending the author chose was probably better for the kind of story it really was - a character study of a person in utmost extremity and an exploration of what sex really is, with everything else stripped away. For all that I loved the story for what it was, I think I would have liked it better if it had been something else.

Though to be fair, this might be THIS is a Hugo-award winning story and I'M still working on making that first sale...  Embarrassed.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
alllie
Matross
****
Posts: 174



WWW
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2010, 07:39:47 PM »

I really can't decide how I feel about this story. Would I like it if I was into porn? What was it really about? When an alien does a probe is it sex or research?
Logged
heyes
Peltast
***
Posts: 92



WWW
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2010, 09:07:59 PM »

First of all:
Mur, thank you so very much for putting a meaningful advisory at the head of this episode.  It was great to be a little prepared for what was to come (no pun intended).
This is a hugo nominee so what does my opinion bring to bear?  Not much I imagine.

That being said, the concept was interesting, deeply interesting. It skirted the edge of being needlessly graphic and crossed back and forth over that edge regularly.  After the concept was made clear, it became repetitive. For my taste would have made a much better flash.  This bizarre timeless moment of mutual (rape? fornication? combat? desperation? comfort?) is stretched too far, but would have been rendered too graphic if we knew more about either character.

That being said I very much enjoyed the exploration of what is suggested to be alien sexuality, and is certainly alien anatomy.  I dig non-bipedal aliens, what can I say.

For the record, from my reading (listening) this is a story that starts with rape and moves forward from there - regardless of the unreliable narrator's claim to be otherwise.

2 cents? paid.
Logged

"Feed me Seymour!"
     -Audry II
"You were not put on the Earth to get it, Mr. Burton"
     - Lo Pan
Wilson Fowlie
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1422



WWW
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2010, 09:10:56 PM »

If this one wins a Hugo it will both elevate and degrade the whole process at the same time. A win for Spar would be like a triple-X porn film winning an Oscar.
@ Scattercat
I never said it was porn. I said it was creepy, which IMHO it is.

Er, you didn't? Kinda reads like you did.

Not to me.  To me it read like an analogy that used porn as a comparator.

I'm not sure that it was a good analogy, given what KenK said.  I can see how a triple-X porn film winning an Oscar would degrade the process, but not how it would elevate it.  An analogy should illustrate your point and this one doesn't, really.
Logged

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham
Talia
Moderator
*****
Posts: 2504


I like pie


« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2010, 09:42:52 PM »

Wow, that was something alright. A really rather startling, and beautiful in a way, juxtaposition of the crudeness of their act with the protagonist's grief and her sense of losing herself. I think Im gonna like this one the more I think about it. I see why it took home the Nebula. (though I'm still rooting for Bridecicle personally - that one had more of an emotional effect on me).

Oh and man - "When she does not have enough Ins for its Outs, it makes new ones. "

That line just made me go "............ACK! Holy crap."

The ending is a bit abrupt, but Ive decided I liked it. Its, I think, hopeful. She doesn't surrender and continue to fade to nothing. She has her chance to regain some measure of separate identity and seizes it.

Weird, awesome story.
Logged
kibitzer
Purveyor of Unsolicited Opinions
EA Staff
*****
Posts: 1922


Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice


« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2010, 11:12:30 PM »

(where a lot of people didn't get it at all.)

...meaning? Not sure what you're saying here. That folks couldn't get past the sex? If so, in looking past that, what should they see? And I'm genuinely interested in what you mean -- a glance at what I've said here could be mistaken for belligerence. Its not.
Logged

Scattercat
Caution:
Editor
*****
Posts: 4157


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2010, 12:16:28 AM »

...meaning? Not sure what you're saying here. That folks couldn't get past the sex? If so, in looking past that, what should they see?

Well, mostly I meant that people literally didn't get it and posted, "I don't get it."  There were a couple of scoffs at genre fiction, and I remember one person saying that it was written at a tenth-grade level.  That sort of thing.

As for what I see in it, well... I think ElectricPaladin summed it up best as a "beautiful-ugly" story.  It's vicious and visceral, but also thought-provoking.  That is, it uses the shock to ask a question, several questions, and to address a difficult theme (sex and communication) in an interesting way.  It's not shocking just so it can say, "There! Ha! I made you flinch!"  I love stories that make me think, and I love stories that play with language.  (I've read enough of Kij Johnson's work to recognize much of this story as written in a certain manner and with a certain cadence in order to achieve a particular effect, and that sort of language game intrigues me immensely.)  This story does a lot on both counts.  I'm not much at all into shock for shock-value's sake or sex and sexuality as a theme, and while this story has shock in spades and is almost single-mindedly about sex, I like it for the intricate structure supporting it and the complex issues it addresses.  That's what's past the sex, to me.
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
mikegoodstadt
Extern
*
Posts: 4


« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2010, 01:12:35 AM »

So this what really happened to Ripley on the way home? Always wondered what such a penetrating encounter would be like. Is her reaction Stockhold-syndrome or the listless boredom of an 'performer'?
Should the title be "Waiting for - god oh no!".
This progressive exploration feels drawn out if you fix on the acts. However if you fix on the feelings you may want to hug her, wipe her eyes (etc!) give her a glass of hot cocoa/hard liquor and say "Time to move on girl - there are plenty more slimey fishy things in the sea..."
All the best,
Mike
Logged
Listener
Hipparch
******
Posts: 3150


I place things in locations which later elude me.


WWW
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2010, 09:18:58 AM »

I still don't know what to say about the story. It was more horror than anything else, to my mind -- being stuck in a tiny spaceship, sucking food from a tube, pooping into another tube, having sex with an alien via every opening on your body including some it makes itself, no stimuli whatsoever beyond that... which begs the question, did it somehow avoid her ears? Otherwise how would she have been able to hear?

A good story, but not the best of the bunch.
Logged

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42
Schreiber
Peltast
***
Posts: 129



« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2010, 02:11:23 PM »

a well written scene, but it just doesn't hit me as a story.

I'm right there with you. Nothing is at stake here. If I had to guess, I'd say the author's personal kinks are at play. Not that that's a bad thing. It's a fantastic thing, when harnessed in an interesting and dynamic way. But this story is far too claustrophobic (and transparently self-gratifying) to be interesting or dynamic. It's the equivalent of a man seducing enthusiastic woman after enthusiastic woman with no complications, embarrassments, or consequences. Less vanilla, sure, but just as uncreative.

I'm afraid I have to file this Nebula Award in the same category as Charlton Heston's Honorary Doctorate and Henry Kissinger's Nobel Peace Prize.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2010, 04:14:34 PM by Schreiber » Logged
Talia
Moderator
*****
Posts: 2504


I like pie


« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2010, 02:17:49 PM »

Nothing is at stake here. .

I disagree on that point. I think her individuality was at stake. The majority of the story was showing how it was being drained from her and she was losing herself, and at the end she made a concious decision to move towards reclaiming herself rather than continuing to be a victim.
Logged
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 784


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2010, 02:20:08 PM »

Nothing is at stake here. .

I disagree on that point. I think her individuality was at stake. The majority of the story was showing how it was being drained from her and she was losing herself, and at the end she made a concious decision to move towards reclaiming herself rather than continuing to be a victim.

I'd like to second this. She survived her terrible experience with her individuality - her sanity - intact. That's a victory.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!