Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: EP264: St. Darwin’s Spirituals  (Read 19699 times)

eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
on: October 28, 2010, 06:58:05 PM
EP264: St. Darwin’s Spirituals

By D. K. Thompson
Read by Mur Lafferty

---

The ghosts wanted a threesome – the two of them in Lucy’s body. It wasn’t an unheard of proposition, or so Lucy had been told. Prostitutes considered psychic whoring one of the safest tricks on the streets. All the pleasures of intimacy without the messy clean-up.

Ghosts had a nasty reputation for vanishing the moment after, though, no matter the talisman around your neck or the potion drunk before sunset, and so payments were usually collected up front. Not that Lucy was worried about the money. Her husband was the only thing that concerned her.

She adjusted her brass and leather goggles, peering through the ethereal tinted lenses to examine the ghosts.

They looked like the average apparitions. Both female. One spiraled around Lucy, long and curly hair obscuring her face. Large black blotches covered her body, causing her skin to peel off in patches. The other hovered several feet above the cobblestones in front of Lucy. She had a noose around her throat and her neck was bent so her head hung to the left side. She crossed her arms and took several breaths. Or whatever passed for breaths in the afterlife.

How long had it been since they’d felt someone’s touch? Lucy wondered. She remembered something her husband had told her long ago, before the murders, before he’d disappeared. “Spirits linger in this world longing to be a part of it, to reconnect, to have some kind of physical, sensual experience,” Thomas had said. “Only a host can provide them that.”

Ghosts aren’t the only creatures haunted by the memory of a touch, my love, Lucy thought. And yet, despite being a devout spiritualist, she shuddered at the idea of the cadaverous spirits making love inside her. She’d never had a ghostgasm before, much less been paid for one. The ghosts looked sincere in their desire, not like dangerous murderers. Certainly not monsters. Still, lonely as she was, a ghostgasm wouldn’t help her find Thomas.


Rated R For paranormal sexual situations.

Show Notes:

  • Enjoy our Halloween episode, which mixes a bit of paranormal in with our science fiction. Hey, it’s a special holiday, and we’re apt to get a little crazy around here.
  • If listeners want some lighter Halloween fun, “Horrorworld,” DK’s short story collaboration with Kevin David Anderson, is running as a two-part special at Drabblecast this Halloween. If people have ever had a desire to see Yul Brynner fight zombies, that’s the story for them.
  • Feedback for Episode 256: The Mermaids Singing Each to Each.
  • Next week… A special election day episode!



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: November 18, 2010, 08:05:06 PM by eytanz »



stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #1 on: October 28, 2010, 07:04:56 PM
Is this the same story that ran on Variant Frequencies?

If so, I'll still listen... at least this one won't have Dani Cutler's heinous attempt to affect a British accent.


[edit]
...wait, why is this on Escape Pod, not Podcastle? Aside from DKT being the main host of PC, I mean?

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Swamp

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2229
    • Journey Into... podcast
Reply #2 on: October 28, 2010, 07:47:22 PM
...wait, why is this on Escape Pod, not Podcastle? Aside from DKT being the main host of PC, I mean?

Wasn't Darwin a champion of science?  So why not science fiction?  Turns out there was more to the story than he first imagined.  Now, you must follow the path of one with more wisdom--one who has helped us see the source of both our biological and spiritual natures.  I refer to the one and only St. Darwin.  Put on your goggles, people, and prepare to see the truth.

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #3 on: October 28, 2010, 08:46:08 PM
Is this the same story that ran on Variant Frequencies?

It is the same story, although it's a slightly different version that appeared in the Triangulation: Dark Glass anthology (thanks for giving me an excuse to link to that ;))!


Boggled Coriander

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 545
    • Balancing Frogs
Reply #4 on: October 28, 2010, 11:05:10 PM
Very cool!  I have to admit I couldn't quite get through this one when it was on VF.  It wasn't any one reader's fault; something about the production just caused it to not mesh with my head.  I'm excited to have another chance to listen!

"The meteor formed a crater, vampires crawling out of the crater." -  The Lyttle Lytton contest


stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #5 on: October 29, 2010, 02:25:48 PM
...wait, why is this on Escape Pod, not Podcastle? Aside from DKT being the main host of PC, I mean?

Wasn't Darwin a champion of science?  So why not science fiction? 


Because ghosts have nothing to do with science. They belong in the fantasy or horror genre.


It is the same story, although it's a slightly different version that appeared in the Triangulation: Dark Glass anthology (thanks for giving me an excuse to link to that ;))!
Any time, Dave  :)

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Void Munashii

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 267
  • twitter.com/VOIDMunashii
    • Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse
Reply #6 on: October 29, 2010, 03:15:16 PM
Arguments about whether this was horror, sci-fi, or fantasy aside, I reallly enjoyed this story. I liked the world that it built, and the story that was told in it. I would love to see more stories set in this world, although not necessarily about Lucy.

"Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse"
http://mallvillestory.blogspot.com


Swamp

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2229
    • Journey Into... podcast
Reply #7 on: October 29, 2010, 03:36:20 PM
You're in luck on both counts.  Check out "Heart of Clay".  Happy Halloween!
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 04:20:38 PM by Swamp »

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #8 on: October 29, 2010, 11:29:31 PM
Listened today. A good story... but science fiction it ain't, and Norm's intro indicates y'all damn well knew it. If this were still the pre-Podcastle days, I would understand running it here. But since there's a better-suited EA podcast for this story... why?  ???

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Swamp

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2229
    • Journey Into... podcast
Reply #9 on: October 29, 2010, 11:48:47 PM
A good story... but science fiction it ain't, and Norm's intro indicates y'all damn well knew it.

Even Mur's show notes indicated it was a stretch for sci-fi.  I don't think they were trying to hide it.  (And my previous comment was tongue in cheek, btw.  I really wasn't really trying to pass it off as scifi  :P.)

If this were still the pre-Podcastle days, I would understand running it here. But since there's a better-suited EA podcast for this story... why?  ???

I think Mur may have answered that as well.  It's Halloween, so they went for something more supernatural.  My guess is she liked it so she wanted to read it.  I agree that last year's Halloween episode, "Infestation" by Garth Nix, was an excellent example of how to achieve both scifi and Halloween.

I also agree that this is a good story.

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


Boggled Coriander

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 545
    • Balancing Frogs
Reply #10 on: October 30, 2010, 02:17:10 AM
Ah, but this story was science fiction, see?  It's science fiction set in a universe where the rules of science are different, that's all!

Anyway, my only problem is, with a story that contains the confluence of the character names Lucy and Ethel, how come Norm thought of "The Golden Girls" first?

"The meteor formed a crater, vampires crawling out of the crater." -  The Lyttle Lytton contest


Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
Reply #11 on: October 30, 2010, 02:45:30 AM
Ah, but this story was science fiction, see?  It's science fiction set in a universe where the rules of science are different, that's all!

This.

We're a genre podcast, but we're not going to wear it like a straightjacket. We all have to let our hair down sometime.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #12 on: October 30, 2010, 05:48:31 PM
I very much enjoyed this story. I liked the world building, and the characters came through very clearly.

I was also confused by the Golden Girls reference; "Lucy & Ethel" certainly trumps "Rose" as a reference in my head.



spoonsinger

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #13 on: October 30, 2010, 10:17:47 PM
Reminds me, I really should read "Immortality, Inc" again sometime.



stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #14 on: October 31, 2010, 12:00:32 AM
Anyway, my only problem is, with a story that contains the confluence of the character names Lucy and Ethel, how come Norm thought of "The Golden Girls" first?

Maybe Norm spends every round looking at Bea Arthur nudes  :P

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Dem

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 567
  • aka conboyhillfiction.wordpress.com
    • Suzanne Conboy-Hill
Reply #15 on: October 31, 2010, 02:15:32 PM
SF or not SF, it fitted the moment and, if it had been on PC instead of here, I would have missed it. Curiously, I found my enjoyment enhanced by being able to read-along-a-mur. I had imagined this might be a conflicting experience but picked up the text today due to the danger of nodding off after a burst of work and a late lunch. Now I'm not sure if hearing or reading alone would have enhanced or diminished that experience. I suspect my overall impression might have been the same but with quite different niggles as some of the narrative sounded good but looked naff while other parts worked better as text than audio. There's a particular problem for those of us writing in 'Brit' because that's the voice in our heads and some of what is written doesn't work well with a different emphasis (rhythm, cadence and all that). Somebody earlier picked up on that, commenting on a version of this story read by someone trying to anglicise it (re-corrects spellcheck that wants to spell that with a 'z' - that's 'zed'!) and I know that I would have found that grating too. The Scots probably have it hardest though, I've heard one or two Scottish authors here and I know that what I'm hearing isn't quite what they were saying sometimes. Going the other way, we're inundated with Americanisms, videos and films to the point that we're incapable now of singing in English so we're probably quite good at sub-vocal reading in the accent of origin, at least insofar as we can find the right stereotype!  ;D

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.


Loz

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 370
    • Blah Flowers
Reply #16 on: October 31, 2010, 04:38:59 PM
Don't ya wish your girlfriend was hot like Bea?

Despite a surfeit of horror or horror-tinged stories round Stately Escape Artist Mansion recently this was certainly one of the better offerings of recent times and I'm glad to see there's another story in this universe already.



Dem

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 567
  • aka conboyhillfiction.wordpress.com
    • Suzanne Conboy-Hill
Reply #17 on: October 31, 2010, 04:58:31 PM
Whoa - just became a mattress! ;D

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #18 on: November 01, 2010, 06:01:50 PM
I didn't quite get the connection of the ghosts with Darwin.  Maybe I'm missing some part of his studies, but the existence of ghosts seems to not have anything to do with evolution--in fact, it sort of contradicts it, in that we only see human ghosts, implying that humans are special in their afterlife existence--unless that's a specific species trait that gives us a survival advantage, I don't get why humans would be the only one to have ghosts.

The story was reasonably good.  The POV character was interesting, especially when it came to light that she was trying so hard to avenge a husband that spent all of his time sleeping around anyway, and that she's trying to not think about that part too much, instead idealizing him in retrospect.  There wasn't really anything about the writing that I disliked, I just don't think I tend to like "ghosts as a mundane part of existence" so much as the focal fantasy element.  The golems were much more interesting to me.

I didn't really get how the monster got killed though, did the ghosts diving into it somehow discombobulate it?  Or did the golems kill it?



Loz

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 370
    • Blah Flowers
Reply #19 on: November 01, 2010, 08:51:58 PM
I didn't quite get the connection of the ghosts with Darwin.  Maybe I'm missing some part of his studies, but the existence of ghosts seems to not have anything to do with evolution--in fact, it sort of contradicts it, in that we only see human ghosts, implying that humans are special in their afterlife existence--unless that's a specific species trait that gives us a survival advantage, I don't get why humans would be the only one to have ghosts.

I think that was to emphasise the difference between their reality and ours, they have a reality in which ghosts exist, unlike ours (SPOILER ALERT! The boy doesn't see dead people, he's just really emotionally disturbed and will grow up to think his name is Tyler Durden) and it just so happens that Darwin figured that out too. Perhaps the life you lead determines how strong and together a ghost you are?



blueeyeddevil

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 104
Reply #20 on: November 02, 2010, 11:40:51 AM
It's my second time looking at the St. Darwin's universe (I listened to "Heart of Clay" on Variant Frequencies) and I'm somewhat nonplussed by the world. For me, the whole thing comes off as a sort of not-humourous Ankh-Morpork (it's the Golem Constables). I'm particularly put off by the re-casting of Darwin and his work. I know, nothing is sacred in fiction, but I've been arguing lately with people about ID and the massive debt modern biology and medical science owe TOoS.
Seeing a world where TOoS is only seen as a footnote 'essay' chills me down to the bone. I admit, if we lived in times where people weren't actively trying to undo Darwin's (and all the other biologists', before, contemporary to, and after him) work, I'd be less sensitive.

As for the this is/is not scifi (I don't think it is, but I don't feel like fighting), isn't it about time Escape Artists broke down and had a Steampunk/Alt history podcast? It would clear up all the confusion. (I'm joking, I know you're busy enough)

Possible titles: Steampod, Podboiler (hmm, that one sounds like a spy-thriller podcast, so Boilerpod instead), Every-Frickin'-Story-Has-To-Have-Brass-Goggles-In-It-Pod (srsly, that seems to be the only prereq for being "Steampunk"), Dirigipod (or maybe Podigible).



Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
Reply #21 on: November 02, 2010, 01:29:23 PM
Enjoyed the story, but was skeeved out by the ghostgasms. :) (not a criticism, just saying the concept made me go 'ewwww..').

Anyone else envision the little slime monster from 'Something Wicked This Way Plumbs' as a junior version of this bad boy?



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #22 on: November 02, 2010, 01:36:52 PM
It's my second time looking at the St. Darwin's universe (I listened to "Heart of Clay" on Variant Frequencies) and I'm somewhat nonplussed by the world. For me, the whole thing comes off as a sort of not-humourous Ankh-Morpork (it's the Golem Constables). I'm particularly put off by the re-casting of Darwin and his work. I know, nothing is sacred in fiction, but I've been arguing lately with people about ID and the massive debt modern biology and medical science owe TOoS.

Seeing a world where TOoS is only seen as a footnote 'essay' chills me down to the bone. I admit, if we lived in times where people weren't actively trying to undo Darwin's (and all the other biologists', before, contemporary to, and after him) work, I'd be less sensitive.

I'm having a hard time putting this into words without just sticking my internet tongue out at you and going "thbthbthbt!" This probably has something to do with the fact that it's six in the morning and I went to bed last night at midnight. Why's that, you might ask? Why would any reasonable adult human being willingly get just under six hours of sleep?

Because in addition to doing NaNoWriMo this year, I'm a middle school biology teacher.

So, I understand the debt that modern science owes Darwin. I spend weeks struggling to communicate the concept of evolution to kids with very little background in science (thanks, standardized testing! >:() and some of whose parents do believe in Creationism and its kin. And I have no problem with a story that pokes fun at Darwin and his beliefs.

Seriously, blueeyeddevil. Darwin was a Christian. The dude would be rolling over in his grave to hear you treating his work like a sacred writ that must be treated with gravitas wherever it goes. Speaking for him - Darwin's theories are just that, theories. This doesn't mean (as IDers are wont to believe) that it has no weight. It does mean that it isn't written in stone, and frankly, it might be wrong. Sure, all of modern Biology stops making sense without evolution... but you know, all of modern physics doesn't make a lot of  sense in light of some stuff the quark-botherers have discovered.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make (other than "thbthbthbt!") is this: when you take some written thing and give it a whole lot of weight, demand that it be treated with respect wherever it is mentioned, you know what I call that? Religion. So, I understand that you're a good Evolutionist and you love Darwin with all your heart, that you hope and pray that your genes will be judged fit enough to continue past your death... but this is a secular podcast. Some of us are just here for the stories ;).

*Ahem* That wasn't too thbthbthbt, was it?

The reason I've got my natural selection in a bunch over your comments, blueeyeddevil, is that you're taking the story way too seriously. Lighten up, man! It's not like the story was actually arguing against evolution. It was just poking it with a stick and laughing maniacally. Actually, it was poking something else with a stick and not really caring that it missed and hit evolution once in a while. We've got a weird horror fantasy steampunk lark with ghost sex and goggles, set in a bizarre alternate universe where not only is spiritualism real (and ghosts are decidedly profane) but Charles Darwin himself opened the world of the spirits to the world of the living. Evolution is the least of this story's concerns. It's weird! It's fun! It's got the word "ghostgasm" in it.

Seriously, I could say ghostgasm all day. Though, if I did, my students would probably freak out.

Quote
"Mr. Stone, can I go to the bathroom?"

"Ghostgasm."

Ok. Way too early in the morning for me to be commenting on forums.

As for the this is/is not scifi (I don't think it is, but I don't feel like fighting), isn't it about time Escape Artists broke down and had a Steampunk/Alt history podcast? It would clear up all the confusion. (I'm joking, I know you're busy enough)

Possible titles: Steampod, Podboiler (hmm, that one sounds like a spy-thriller podcast, so Boilerpod instead), Every-Frickin'-Story-Has-To-Have-Brass-Goggles-In-It-Pod (srsly, that seems to be the only prereq for being "Steampunk"), Dirigipod (or maybe Podigible).

I propose a new podcast: Badpod. It'll have all the stories I don't like on it. At this point, it would consist mostly of high concept stories that are too artfully worded and don't make any sense, stories with no noticeable sympathetic protagonists, about half of the Pseudopod stories in which the bad guys win (I don't mind them, once in a while, but there are just too many), stories in which I sympathize with a secondary character who then dies a stupid death, and one in three stories not read by Wilson Fowlie (so as to increase the Wilson Fowlie density in the main podcasts - we just need more Wilson Fowlie). What do you think.

*Hoooork Spat!*

Sorry, that was the sound of me extracting my tongue from my cheek.

Anyway, I get really sick of people proposing the need for a new podcast whenever one of the three tries to branch out and mix it up a little. It's inevitable. I could make money betting on it (if there were bookies for the Escape Artists forums). The genre bed is big, blueeyeddevil, so let's all try to share the covers.

Huh. That metaphor didn't really... make any sense. The genre pie is big? The genre... you know, I'm going to quit while I'm ahead. There's lots of stuff out there in genre-land, and I don't see the need to get my DNA all hot and bothered whenever one of the pods does something odd. I enjoy it. It mixes things up a little.

Now that I'm done making an utter fool of myself ("I have not yet begun to fool!") what did I actually think of the story?

Actually, I enjoyed it a great deal. It was a fun, clever, quirky little gem of a story and it brightened my morning. I particularly enjoyed the layered and bizarre world the authors have built, Lucy and her denial, and the concept of ghostgasms. The ghost-eater was particularly fun and evocative as well. I was sad that Lucy wasn't able to save Thomas, though. It wasn't quite "defeat snatched from the jaws of victory" for me, since it was pretty well foreshadowed that Thomas was no longer among the living, but I do love a happy ending so... Anyway, this story was fun and I'd love to hear more in the universe. So there.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #23 on: November 02, 2010, 01:43:40 PM
I didn't quite get the connection of the ghosts with Darwin.  Maybe I'm missing some part of his studies, but the existence of ghosts seems to not have anything to do with evolution--in fact, it sort of contradicts it, in that we only see human ghosts, implying that humans are special in their afterlife existence--unless that's a specific species trait that gives us a survival advantage, I don't get why humans would be the only one to have ghosts.

I think that was to emphasise the difference between their reality and ours, they have a reality in which ghosts exist, unlike ours (SPOILER ALERT! The boy doesn't see dead people, he's just really emotionally disturbed and will grow up to think his name is Tyler Durden) and it just so happens that Darwin figured that out too. Perhaps the life you lead determines how strong and together a ghost you are?

But why Darwin?  Why not Einstein or Newton or Lincoln or Martin Luther King Jr or Teddy Roosevelt or just a name that's not famous in our world?  There's got to be a reason why Darwin in particular was chosen, and it MUST have been very important because his name is mentioned right in the title.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #24 on: November 02, 2010, 02:04:25 PM
I didn't quite get the connection of the ghosts with Darwin.  Maybe I'm missing some part of his studies, but the existence of ghosts seems to not have anything to do with evolution--in fact, it sort of contradicts it, in that we only see human ghosts, implying that humans are special in their afterlife existence--unless that's a specific species trait that gives us a survival advantage, I don't get why humans would be the only one to have ghosts.

I think that was to emphasise the difference between their reality and ours, they have a reality in which ghosts exist, unlike ours (SPOILER ALERT! The boy doesn't see dead people, he's just really emotionally disturbed and will grow up to think his name is Tyler Durden) and it just so happens that Darwin figured that out too. Perhaps the life you lead determines how strong and together a ghost you are?

But why Darwin?  Why not Einstein or Newton or Lincoln or Martin Luther King Jr or Teddy Roosevelt or just a name that's not famous in our world?  There's got to be a reason why Darwin in particular was chosen, and it MUST have been very important because his name is mentioned right in the title.

I think it's because Darwin...
a) existed at a time when spiritualism was popular, and the story takes advantage of the culture of spiritualism.
b) is already known for making one controversial discovery, so it was easy to add another controversial discovery (that of ghosts) to his resume.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.