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Author Topic: EP248: Spar  (Read 28794 times)
Schreiber
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« Reply #180 on: August 03, 2010, 06:59:47 PM »

Touche, Electric Paladin.
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Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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« Reply #181 on: August 04, 2010, 03:03:27 PM »

Is it going to be baked to scale?

Anyone expecting the cake shaped like the Internet to be to scale is simply wrong!

Not sized to scale, baked to scale, with the different parts at different degrees of cooked-ness depending on how half-baked that section of the internet is.

So three cubic centimeters of baked cake surrounded by a vast lake of cake batter then? I've had worse.
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #182 on: August 04, 2010, 03:16:22 PM »

Cheesy
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"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
jay daze
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« Reply #183 on: August 08, 2010, 07:25:19 PM »

An awesome, awesome story.  Caught it first on Clarkesworld and enjoyed this second go round on Escape Pod.  I've listened to and read a lot of stories this year - this one stuck in my head.  I like a good plot, but this was a refreshing change.  It captured a moment, a moment stretched into an eternity.  For me the protagonist never gets out of the escape pod, never escapes the embrace/grasp of the alien.  Kij Johnson captures a state of mind.
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LaShawn
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« Reply #184 on: September 23, 2010, 11:18:14 AM »

Just getting around to listening to this, although I've already heard it on Clarkesworld. Good to hear Mur's voice again. I'm liking her sign-off. "Be Mighty." Indeed.

I guess this one didn't strike me as horrible as Bridescicle. True, the two are similar in that both protagonists are stuck in a situation they can't get out of except through outside sources. Which is worse: To be trapped in a spaceship humping an alien lifeform endlessly, or to be aware in fits and spurts, knowing ongoing existence lies in impressing a unsocial cad of your worth? I can see the horror that could be in Spar, and the insanity that could produce, but I guess it's not as visceral to me as seeing a fat man leaning over a coffin and seeing you not as a person, but as a thing to fulfill his own selfish pleasures. Guh.

It may be also that I have just finished reading Harlan Ellison's "How's the Night Life on Cissalda?", which has the same morbid, but more darkly humorous premise.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2010, 11:19:54 AM by LaShawn » Logged

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JesseLivingston
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« Reply #185 on: October 09, 2010, 11:39:50 AM »

Cheers, KenK! If I could get my hands on some brain bleach, this story would be the first thing to go. Next would be certain relationships I've had. Then the Bush presidency. Etc.

I love sci-fi, and I love sex. I love sci-fi sex. But this just seemed over-the-top and ridiculous. Surely, they would have taken a break at some point? Maybe tried other forms of communication? A months-long orgy seems pretty unlikely for any being to sustain (or want to) no matter how many feeding tubes there are.

People have pointed out that the story generated a lot of good discussion and raised some good questions. I agree that it did, but doing so does not necessarily make it a good story. You can draft a bill that says gay people can't marry, and that will generate good discussion and questions, but it doesn't mean that bill has any inherent worth. Most of the discussion seemed to focus on whether or not the story was gratuitously titillating. Given the intelligence and general good taste of Escape Pod listeners, this probably means it was close enough to being gratuitously titillating that the author should have found another way to approach the issues s/he wanted to get at. I appreciated the passion of the writing, but it didn't ring true to what would actually happen in such a situation. The idea of endless sex may work in a dream or a simulation of some kind, but it just isn't practical in real life. It doesn't seem likely that both beings would remain in the same mental space for months where that's all they wanted. They would surely go through phases of trying other things to pass the time. Or one of them would decide enough is enough and find a way to stop it.

A more interesting story would have been one that explored the psychology of how the two stranded characters decided to try sex in the first place. It could even have been a subtle interplay of emotions and actions that really got into the issues of interspecies communication rather than pretending to. Pretty much any other approach I can think of would have been better than this rape fantasy.

If nothing else, the story did inspire me to find out more about how the Hugo/Nebula nomination process works.
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Jesse Livingston
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« Reply #186 on: October 09, 2010, 01:27:33 PM »

The idea of endless sex may work in a dream or a simulation of some kind, but it just isn't practical in real life. It doesn't seem likely that both beings would remain in the same mental space for months where that's all they wanted. They would surely go through phases of trying other things to pass the time. Or one of them would decide enough is enough and find a way to stop it.

All of that was in the story already, though.  I don't think you can criticize the story for not including things that actually are in there.
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Artemis
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« Reply #187 on: October 17, 2010, 01:46:24 PM »

As a writer of erotica, I have no problem reading about sex at all. I have good friends who write in that genre as well, everything from vanilla to unbelievably daring and sticky. However, none of us enjoy reading or writing rape scenes. Sex is best described when everyone is enjoying it. True, there are occasions when sex isn't fun for one or both parties, but in a fictional story, such experiences ought to have a purpose. The first Thomas Covenant novel springs to mind as a good example.

I love stories which examine how the protagonist's psychology is altered or survives threatening or disasterous situations, so I appreciated the points that the author was trying to make here. I just felt the whole thing didn't need to be as drawn out as it was. I agree with other posts - that the story would have sat better either with more backstory in it to build up the character, or as a shorter story overall.
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Dem
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« Reply #188 on: October 17, 2010, 04:22:50 PM »

As a writer of erotica
I think the difference here is that this is not erotica, it is survival, and it is never entirely clear whose. The woman is obviously just as alien to the alien as it is to her and neither knows how to relate to the other except in this endless, fruitless and dead sexual encouter. Personally, I was not assuming that the alien was somehow in control, I felt it might be just as trapped as the human and that they had malignant or, at best, ignorant, captors in common. Who knows though? Not Kij Johnson evidently, according to her interview on Clarkesworld!
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Zuishness
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« Reply #189 on: October 23, 2010, 08:50:09 PM »

The part that struck me was the point where she was remembering having a picnic with her man, and she asked him not to read her Shakespeare. It seemed that she needed those words of love to be his own, and was haunted by the fact that he hadn't been able to do this.

 This really jolted me. Was she revealing that she believed he was unable to be properly intimate; that he was faking.

The situation with the alien, and her memories of her past, made me think of accounts I have read by individuals who have been in relationships with people on the autistic spectrum.
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #190 on: January 31, 2014, 06:05:29 PM »

People who liked this story may be interested to know there's a new version of the story. It's ... rather different from the original.

(Heck, People who didn't like the story may be even more interested than those who did.)


(People who like bacon will likely be very interested in it.)
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"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
Varda
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« Reply #191 on: January 31, 2014, 09:00:43 PM »

People who liked this story may be interested to know there's a new version of the story. It's ... rather different from the original.

(Heck, People who didn't like the story may be even more interested than those who did.)


(People who like bacon will likely be very interested in it.)

Hole. Eee. CRAP!

 Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

I am so, so happy right now. Thanks for the tip!
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #192 on: February 03, 2014, 10:01:44 AM »

Haha, yes, I thought I'd posted a link to that after it went live last year.

I sent Kij some mail after I heard it, for fun  Smiley
Quote
Kij,
Ever since "Spar" was published in Clarkesworld, I have thought to myself on at least a sesquiweekly basis: 
"You know, that story about sexytimes on the escape pod with the alien was pretty awesome.  And was unlike anything else I've ever read before, primarily because of all the sex.  But you know what would make it better?  Toning down the sex a bit.  I mean, there is rather a lot of sex.  It's actually a little excessive.  Blatant, even.  Nonstop, you might say, not exactly subtle. As Yoon Ha Lee would say, the unstrung zither is the pinnacle of artistic achievement because subtlety is the core of art, and an unstrung zither takes that to the natural conclusion.  So how better to improve upon a story that focuses obsessively with sex, than to remove the sex from it entirely?" 

These idle thoughts only seemed to cross my mind while I was otherwise indisposed, such as sitting in meetings, or eating my breakfast bacon.  Or my lunch bacon.  Or my afternoon snack bacon.  So I was surprised and delighted to hear the story on the podcast without me having yet remembered to make the suggestion.  Genius!  The unsexed sex story!  I didn't know that you could read my mind.  I should really be more careful what I think about in the future.
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eytanz
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« Reply #193 on: February 09, 2014, 05:18:37 PM »

People who liked this story may be interested to know there's a new version of the story. It's ... rather different from the original.

(Heck, People who didn't like the story may be even more interested than those who did.)


(People who like bacon will likely be very interested in it.)

So, I'm having a real impulse now to start a flame war about how I, being Jewish, find the explicit discussion of bacon-eating in stories offensive. And then I remember that A - I'm a moderator here so I should be on my best behaviour, B - I don't keep kosher and I actually rather enjoy bacon myself and C - in general, life is a lot better if whenever I have an impulse, I don't follow it.

Anyway, that was incredibly amusing.
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