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Author Topic: EP259: The Lady or the Tiger  (Read 24895 times)

Swamp

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on: September 23, 2010, 04:31:58 PM
EP259: The Lady or the Tiger

By J M McDermott
Read by Grant Baciocco of Throwing Toasters and The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd

First appeared in Apex Magazine

The only thing I could think of to take my mind off of Sheila, and the crash, was asking my brother about Guj Sarwar, the tiger on the back of the great and mighty lizard, Samarkand. When I was a boy, I didn’t understand why it was the only other thing I could think about, like something was on the tip of my tongue.

And, Jiri knew everything there was to know about the wastes of the far west, the lizards, and the tigers. He was fifteen years old. Next year, he’d be driving cattle up the highway to Io Town in a flyer all by himself. I was only ten. I didn’t even have my own computer terminal yet. I had to share his when he wasn’t using it. Everything I knew about the wastes had been from the computer, and from Jiri.

“On the wastes, Simsa,” said my brother, “you can’t walk on the ground. The sand is all quicksand. It sucks you up and swallows you. You have to ride on the back of giant lizards as big as walking mountains. There’re only twenty-five lizards. They have names.”


Rated PG-13  For blood and revolution and missing fingers.


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« Last Edit: October 14, 2010, 02:46:24 PM by eytanz »

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AJHunter

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Reply #1 on: September 23, 2010, 05:23:11 PM
Loved this story. The mythology of it is what got me. I love the image of the giant lizards with people living on their backs. But I must admit that I was biased by hearing Norm's voice on the intro...
A great story. I think eventually EP will raise the story-telling bar too high, then overshoot it, just because they can.



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Reply #2 on: September 24, 2010, 12:28:13 AM
  I really liked the world that this story showed us. It's always fun when a story is set in a world that clearly has a lot more going on in it than just what's being focused on in the story itself.

  I must admit feeling a little disappointed that we do not find out what the narrator's decision was, but I understand why we don't. There is no right or wrong choice for him to make, and telling us what his choice was would only serve to disappoint the half of the audience who felt, and correctly so, that it was the wrong choice.

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Grayven

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Reply #3 on: September 24, 2010, 02:58:15 AM
This was a fun piece. Interesting world-building, and like any great short fiction it left me wanting more.

I think the author cut off exposition at exactly the right point.

I think the hero chose "the lady". Nothing too scientific, when confused, go with the lady.



stePH

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Reply #4 on: September 24, 2010, 02:58:53 AM
I dunno, seems to me as easy a choice as the original (which I've never read, but Norm spelled it out sufficiently in the intro). The woman he loves, or the brother who's shit-headed sabotage killed her and stranded them. Plus, the brother was neglecting to preserve his own life in order to finish retrieving her, so that effectively gives his blessing, right?

I liked this story okay -- until the end, which destroyed it for me.

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Grayven

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Reply #5 on: September 24, 2010, 03:05:39 AM
Is the original "lady or the tiger" in public domain yet? If it is, lets put it up. I volunteer to read it.



Swamp

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Reply #6 on: September 24, 2010, 03:33:44 AM
I dunno, seems to me as easy a choice as the original (which I've never read, but Norm spelled it out sufficiently in the intro).

In the original, there was no moral choice, just two doors, although we question the motives of the lover of the protagonist.

But why explain it, here is the text of the original story, as Grayven requested.

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Loof

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Reply #7 on: September 24, 2010, 10:33:11 AM
I really enjoyed listening to this. Not only did I like the changes to the main conundrum of the story, but the world it was set in was brilliant-living on giant lizards, how much more awesome could you get?



stePH

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Reply #8 on: September 24, 2010, 08:03:19 PM
I LOVED the line "he's so dumb he wouldn't know which end of a battery to shove up his own ass." I've appropriated it for future use. Actually, I've already used it twice for Glenn Beck.

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deflective

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Reply #9 on: September 24, 2010, 08:24:21 PM
In the original, there was no moral choice, just two doors, although we question the motives of the lover of the protagonist.

yeah, the original story by Stockton has little in common with the description in the intro.  an alternative to reading the original is to listen to it.



Swamp

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Reply #10 on: September 24, 2010, 08:38:36 PM
In the original, there was no moral choice, just two doors, although we question the motives of the lover of the protagonist.

yeah, the original story by Stockton has little in common with the description in the intro.  an alternative to reading the original is to listen to it.

Yes, B.J. did a great job, as always, and he even had a little fun with the ending.

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Darwinist

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Reply #11 on: September 25, 2010, 03:25:56 AM
I don't know, this story just didn't do much for me.  I couldn't follow what was going on, maybe I'm just too stupid or maybe it was because I was driving through a monsoon during rush hour and couldn't concentrate. 

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.    -  Carl Sagan


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Reply #12 on: September 25, 2010, 01:28:33 PM
I'm not sure if i liked this one or not.  The world building was enjoyable (who wouldn't want to live on the back of a giant lizard, or see reports of anthropomorphic tigers climbing a space elevator) and I liked the characters, but the ending left me unsatisfied



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Reply #13 on: September 25, 2010, 09:27:09 PM
I liked this one. Moral conundrums make you think.  ;)



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Reply #14 on: September 26, 2010, 12:36:31 PM
I really enjoyed the world building in this one.  I did wonder at the end if the refrigerator could only store one head apparently cut off at the neck why two craniums wouldn't fit in the same space.  (But then in the original The Lady or the Tiger if the decision maker couldn't have befriended the tiger and convinced him to eat the person who put him into the situation.)




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Reply #15 on: September 26, 2010, 06:48:58 PM
I'm not sure the writer understood what the original "The Lady or the Tiger", was about. The man was not choosing between the lady or the tiger, the man believed the princess would choose best for him and picked the door she indicated. The, as stated a few times in the original story, semi-barbaric princess was the one who had to make a choice between the lady or the tiger. It was a choice of either getting the man killed by the tiger so he would be in the afterlife waiting for her or if she would live the rest of her life knowing the man she loved would forever be with the woman she hated most. Being semi-barbaric, this would be pure agony.

Now the thing I don't understand about McDermott's story is why he made the kid who has to decide, ten years old. Sure he knows what evils his brother has done. And sure he likes the girl. But unless I missed something, I would think most ten year old boys, especially seeing how chummy these two were, would automatically save their brother over a cute girl. Why didn't the author make the kid older, at least a teen, and maybe already dating the girl. Then I could see more of a quandary.



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #16 on: September 26, 2010, 06:54:37 PM
Now the thing I don't understand about McDermott's story is why he made the kid who has to decide, ten years old. Sure he knows what evils his brother has done. And sure he likes the girl. But unless I missed something, I would think most ten year old boys, especially seeing how chummy these two were, would automatically save their brother over a cute girl. Why didn't the author make the kid older, at least a teen, and maybe already dating the girl. Then I could see more of a quandary.

Because he didn't love her like a date. He loved her like a mom. That made the possibility of losing her even more painful.

. . .

I liked this story for its fascinating and quirky world-building. It was an interesting study in idealism and choice. Somehow, though, the narration didn't quite grab me and I never really fell into the story. Maybe the reading wasn't my style, maybe there was something in the pacing that didn't click for me, but for all that there was lots to love in this story... it just didn't work out.

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Unblinking

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Reply #17 on: September 27, 2010, 01:37:33 PM
I really loved the world building in this one.  A quicksand desert where people live on the backs of lizards--I want to see more in this world!  But the story that filled in the awesome setting...  not so much.

1.  As others have pointed out, the writer seemed to not understand the dilemma of the original story (at least, judging by the description in the intro, maybe that was just a joke).

2.  It went to such absurd lengths to create the lady or tiger situation from this bizarre world, that it seemed sort of like a feghoot, except:
-The punchline was given away in the title
-It wasn't funny, and didn't seem to be intended to be funny
-At the time that the punchline occurs, it doesn't even make sense, requiring several more minutes of exposition to make it clear.  "So I had to choose The Lady or the Tiger.  By the way, the tiger is my brother.  He's the tiger because..."  I totally didn't get that his brother was a tiger in any way so it just felt like all that telling is in the wrong order.



Loz

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Reply #18 on: September 27, 2010, 06:41:17 PM
The whole 'my brother is the tiger' thing did rub me wrong too, it seemed like a cymbal drop in an otherwise graceful symphony. It should perhaps have been brought in a lot earlier or perhaps left out completely, so the dullwits like me could ask "Whut does the title mean then?". But I did like the story, which set up an interesting and believable world with admirable brevity. But we couldn't be told who he saved, that would render the story pointless, like if Inception didn't end the way it did (no spoilers, in case anyone still hasn't seen it!)



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Reply #19 on: September 27, 2010, 06:56:55 PM
I am glad that people have already pointed out the cringe-worthy misreading of the original "Lady or the Tiger," which caused me to shout and gesture wildly at my computer and drown out Norm with an impromptu lecture on the thematic content and history of the original story and then have to rewind to listen to it properly.

I'd also say that it doesn't make much sense for the brother to not take steps to protect himself from his own idiotic sabotage.  If he knew that it was coming, he could have just punched the "dump cargo" button immediately upon the explosion and claimed "fast reflexes" if anyone asked.  Giant lizard houses, though, are rad.

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Reply #20 on: September 27, 2010, 07:23:31 PM
I am glad that people have already pointed out the cringe-worthy misreading of the original "Lady or the Tiger," which caused me to shout and gesture wildly at my computer and drown out Norm with an impromptu lecture on the thematic content and history of the original story and then have to rewind to listen to it properly.

I'd also say that it doesn't make much sense for the brother to not take steps to protect himself from his own idiotic sabotage.  If he knew that it was coming, he could have just punched the "dump cargo" button immediately upon the explosion and claimed "fast reflexes" if anyone asked.  Giant lizard houses, though, are rad.

Hmm, I've never read it myself, but it seems like the author's note can at least be loosely extrapolated to be about the same thing: death by tiger or life in an arranged marriage.  It may be oversimplified, but maybe not a misreading.  Not qualified to comment till I give the original a read I guess!



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Reply #21 on: September 27, 2010, 07:55:10 PM
I am glad that people have already pointed out the cringe-worthy misreading of the original "Lady or the Tiger," which caused me to shout and gesture wildly at my computer and drown out Norm with an impromptu lecture on the thematic content and history of the original story and then have to rewind to listen to it properly.

I'd also say that it doesn't make much sense for the brother to not take steps to protect himself from his own idiotic sabotage.  If he knew that it was coming, he could have just punched the "dump cargo" button immediately upon the explosion and claimed "fast reflexes" if anyone asked.  Giant lizard houses, though, are rad.

Hmm, I've never read it myself, but it seems like the author's note can at least be loosely extrapolated to be about the same thing: death by tiger or life in an arranged marriage.  It may be oversimplified, but maybe not a misreading.  Not qualified to comment till I give the original a read I guess!

The point of the original story, as DantesFire said, was that the protagonist didn't KNOW what choice his lover had made for him.  He wasn't choosing death or an arranged marriage; he was trusting HER to have chosen for him, with her foreknowledge of which door held which fate.  The question was about whether his lover would choose to see him live with the love of a beautiful and wealthy wife or if she would rather see him mauled by a tiger than suffer being abandoned, and whether he knew her well enough to predict which one she would guide him toward.

This story's moral choice, while interesting in its own merits, has nothing to do with the themes of the original story.  The author's note said the choice in the original was "obvious," but it CAN'T have been obvious because the protagonist in the original story did not have complete information.  The original story was about love and trust; this story is about loyalty.

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Reply #22 on: September 28, 2010, 05:06:37 AM
I really appreciated the young age of the main character and that his love for "the lady" was a pure simple love held by the young and not a convoluted overtly sexual love that seems to come more easily with age.  I also liked how his brother quoted against using violence to achieve ones goals yet ended up causing great violence against himself and others.  Although he never planned to hurt anyone, chaos is inevitable and things rarely happen as planned.  My absolute favorite part was the imagery of men trading parts of their body to become machines of war, and then the tragic fate of the lone tiger survivor.  He wont kill himself even though all that he cares for and believes in has been lost.  I find that a beautifully romantic ideal.  In the end I felt that young lead may have saved his brother.  The root cause of his brothers death was his grim determination to save the innocent life he had ended.  If the young protagonist saved "the tiger" I feel that his brother would remember the death of "the lady" that he caused and the internal struggle and grief he would battle at his actions alone warrant another story.  fantastic spin on the ancient conundrum.

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Reply #23 on: September 28, 2010, 08:48:20 AM
I am glad that people have already pointed out the cringe-worthy misreading of the original "Lady or the Tiger," which caused me to shout and gesture wildly at my computer and drown out Norm with an impromptu lecture on the thematic content and history of the original story and then have to rewind to listen to it properly.

I'd also say that it doesn't make much sense for the brother to not take steps to protect himself from his own idiotic sabotage.  If he knew that it was coming, he could have just punched the "dump cargo" button immediately upon the explosion and claimed "fast reflexes" if anyone asked.  Giant lizard houses, though, are rad.

Hmm, I've never read it myself, but it seems like the author's note can at least be loosely extrapolated to be about the same thing: death by tiger or life in an arranged marriage.  It may be oversimplified, but maybe not a misreading.  Not qualified to comment till I give the original a read I guess!

The point of the original story, as DantesFire said, was that the protagonist didn't KNOW what choice his lover had made for him.  He wasn't choosing death or an arranged marriage; he was trusting HER to have chosen for him, with her foreknowledge of which door held which fate.  The question was about whether his lover would choose to see him live with the love of a beautiful and wealthy wife or if she would rather see him mauled by a tiger than suffer being abandoned, and whether he knew her well enough to predict which one she would guide him toward.

This story's moral choice, while interesting in its own merits, has nothing to do with the themes of the original story.  The author's note said the choice in the original was "obvious," but it CAN'T have been obvious because the protagonist in the original story did not have complete information.  The original story was about love and trust; this story is about loyalty.

I see what you mean, I'm just saying that the author chooses to give that dilemma to the MC in this story.  He doesn't indicate in his note who made the choice in the original Stockton story, just that there was a choice presented and that one option seemed quite brutal and extreme while the other, although certainly painful, didn't quite register on the tiger-eating-someone-alive scale.



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Reply #24 on: September 28, 2010, 09:04:12 AM
Either way, he's gone from her life forever.  To her, what difference would it make if he was eaten by a tiger or swallowed by a life she couldn't touch?  Does she love him enough to give him happiness that she can envy but never taste, or would she rather deny her rival the pleasure of beating her and taking her man away, even if it means no one can have him?

How many people in history have faced that choice and said, "Tiger"?

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