Escape Artists
October 23, 2014, 01:30:55 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3  All
  Print  
Author Topic: EP265: We are Ted Tuscadero for President  (Read 8102 times)
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4685



« on: November 04, 2010, 03:00:33 PM »

EP 265: We are Ted Tuscadero for President

By Chris Dahlen
Read by Cheyenne Wright

---

My name is Ted Tuscadero. And I want to be your President.

I say that with a humble heart. I realize that even after eight stellar years in the Senate, some of you are still getting to know me. And I’ll admit, I am not perfect. The other day, when I told a VFW in Littleton I would blast Iran to glass, and at the same exact time I swore off the war at a town hall in Concord? My bad. Or the time that three of me showed up for the big debate in Manchester, and we got in a fistfight over who was going on the air? Yeah, the chattering classes had a few laughs over that one.

And that little incident before the holidays, when I crashed, as lit as a Christmas tree, into a pole and my car exploded, killing me instantly and taking a mailbox, a transformer and a barn cat with me? It looked bad, I know. But that proxy was on the fritz. That’s not me. That’s not who I am. And the more we talk, the better you get to know me, the more you’ll see what I mean.


Rated PG-13 For sexual situations and adult language.

Show Notes:

  • Election day is always better with clones!
  • Mr. Dahlen is editorial director of Kill Screen, a new print quarterly magazine about videogames.
  • Feedback for Episode 257: Union Dues: The Sum of Its Parts.
  • Next week… We travel to Japan!



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 06:00:45 PM by eytanz » Logged
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 860


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2010, 03:06:59 PM »

Oh, man, I want to listen to this one so hard. I can't wait!
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
Scattercat
Caution:
Editor
*****
Posts: 4398


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2010, 10:35:05 PM »

Hee!  I had to slush this one when a query came in from the author.  It was fun.  I'm looking forward to hearing it.  My previous reaction remains firmly in place:


Quote from: Scattercat the Angry Slusher
Biggest issue I have is a flailing nerd-rage cry of "That's not how
cloning woooooorrrrks!"  And then I beat my tiny fists against my
playpen wall.  (Though honestly, it's almost a scifi convention now, like
FTL.  It just irritates the hell out of me.)

And so...

That's not how cloning works!

*flails*

Fun story.
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
Boggled Coriander
Lochage
*****
Posts: 545



WWW
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2010, 03:32:51 AM »

And so...

That's not how cloning works!

*flails*

Fun story.

Justification:

When person-duplication was developed, the press and the popular imagination took one look at it and though, "Aha! Cloning!"  Scientists rolled their eyes and said, "This isn't cloning! This is different! Cloning uses totally different technology!"  But it was no use.  The public had been already been influenced by decades of science fiction. 

Now, even scientists grudgingly call it "cloning" when they're talking to the press.  But they die a little inside, every time.
Logged

"The meteor formed a crater, vampires crawling out of the crater." -  The Lyttle Lytton contest
Loz
Lochage
*****
Posts: 369


WWW
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2010, 07:54:41 AM »

I enjoyed it, and I think that for a certain value of cloning it does work, it's a clone of Ted Tuscadero as a grown man, with a copy of his brain with, presumably, just a slight tweak so that the clone knows and accepts that he's a clone. The thing I don't get is that, presumably, once the candidate wins (or loses) the Presidential race all the proxies are killed off, and why our Ted Tuscaditto doesn't appear to know this fact. I would have thought it would make sense to make them aware of their limited life, or if the sliding polls make them unpopular, why they didn't have some automatic kill-switch in them. That's a really minor niggle though. The main thing I liked about this was that our Tuscadero/Tuscaditto wasn't a stereotyped politician of either side of the aisle (or whatever it is you Americans have over there), not an angel but not Boss Hogg either.

It wasn't him unknowingly walking off to his death that got me, it was when he asked the mayor to arrange the ground-breaking event so that he as an individual rather than just any old Ted Tuscadero would be involved. It's possibly his only moment of individuality and it doesn't look like he's going to get it, unless I've completely misunderstood the end of the story.
Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 6447



WWW
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2010, 09:31:09 AM »

Hee!  I had to slush this one when a query came in from the author.  It was fun.  I'm looking forward to hearing it.  My previous reaction remains firmly in place:


Quote from: Scattercat the Angry Slusher
Biggest issue I have is a flailing nerd-rage cry of "That's not how
cloning woooooorrrrks!"  And then I beat my tiny fists against my
playpen wall.  (Though honestly, it's almost a scifi convention now, like
FTL.  It just irritates the hell out of me.)

And so...

That's not how cloning works!

*flails*

Fun story.

That didn't bother me at all in this story.  Yes, cloning does not work that way, but I never considered this to be cloning.  This is more of a mind-body copy than just a genetic duplication.  Yes, one person asks him if it's cloning, and I believe his answer was that it could be called cloning, but:
1.  He's a practiced liar, and he can say it this vague way to avoid having to directly contradict them.
2.  He's not a scientist, so maybe he doesn't understand the difference.


Well, Escape Pod, you've finally done it.  This is the FIRST politically focused story on Escape Artists that I didn't hate.  And not only did I not hate it, I really enjoyed it.  AND I sympathized with a politician character.  Pretty much all the other ones have been as entertaining as a political ad, but this one managed to center around politics and be interesting and sympathetic.

Great story, lots of interesting implications in this one.  Gah!  Politicians everywhere!  I wonder if that was a metaphor for the increasing politician presence saturation in our lives in the media as election day approaches (which I'm still recovering from this election season).  If so, it was a good one.  If not, well, I'll just pretend it was anyway.

I also appreciate Mur sharing her views of politics and elections, which are quite close to my own.  Particularly frustration with the promises politicians make as if they did not have to overcome the personal and political biases of hundreds of other politicians to get any single change enacted. 

Part of the reason that i could relate so well to this politician was the peculiar situation he's in.  He's working his ass off to win this election, but even in his mind, someone else is going to reap the main benefit of it.  This brings him away from the stereotypical power-hungry money-hungry douchebag politician, because he is standing for his ideals WITHOUT swimming in a Scrooge McDuck style money vault.  His situation is much more idealistic than your typical politician.  He even realizes it, but shies away from it, such as when he thinks about sitting in the white house, and then abruptly changes thoughts as though realizing that HE will not be the one sitting in the White House, HE will not be the one with the glory and the power and the money.  AT BEST he'll still just be a spin doctor lookalike, and AT WORST, he'll be executed.

The ending was handled PERFECTLY, on a hopeful note in the character's mind but with the reader being aware of the inevitable messy ending.  Interrupting the haircut was the perfect way to do it, because it tells me that they're clearly not intending to keep this guy around if they're not going to even let him get a proper haircut before hauling him away.  Yet he seems oblivious of this, perhaps realizing deep down what's going to happen, but trying to cling to the go-getter self that he is so proud of, despite the sudden valley looming ahead.
Logged

--David Steffen
The Submissions Grinder:  Fiction market listings, submissions tracker, always free, poetry and nonfiction markets coming soon!
jenfullmoon
Palmer
**
Posts: 45


« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2010, 10:32:48 AM »

I enjoyed it, and I think that for a certain value of cloning it does work, it's a clone of Ted Tuscadero as a grown man, with a copy of his brain with, presumably, just a slight tweak so that the clone knows and accepts that he's a clone. The thing I don't get is that, presumably, once the candidate wins (or loses) the Presidential race all the proxies are killed off, and why our Ted Tuscaditto doesn't appear to know this fact. I would have thought it would make sense to make them aware of their limited life, or if the sliding polls make them unpopular, why they didn't have some automatic kill-switch in them. That's a really minor niggle though. The main thing I liked about this was that our Tuscadero/Tuscaditto wasn't a stereotyped politician of either side of the aisle (or whatever it is you Americans have over there), not an angel but not Boss Hogg either.

It wasn't him unknowingly walking off to his death that got me, it was when he asked the mayor to arrange the ground-breaking event so that he as an individual rather than just any old Ted Tuscadero would be involved. It's possibly his only moment of individuality and it doesn't look like he's going to get it, unless I've completely misunderstood the end of the story.

I don't know. It seems like a pretty publicly weird thing to kill off EVERY Tuscaditto (hee), especially since they have very publicly been all over the place. People would notice and even possibly object to the wholesale slaughter of every guy who's been working hard to get to know everybody. Hell, people might even get a little attached to their personal Teds. On the other hand, killing off the occasional Tuscaditto wouldn't be noticed if he steps out of line, which is where this seems to be going.

It's a very interesting story, and a bit heartbreaking when he can't make phone calls any more and the only person he really has is Rachael. (No mention of a Mrs. Tuscadero in this scenario, which makes me wonder. No single guy can get elected President, so what would they do with the clones' feelings towards the Mrs., whatever they are? I wonder if they "fixed" that too.)

Mostly, though, I find it hard to figure out what Tuscaditto here thinks is going on. He seems to somewhat know he's going to be killed off, but sort of doesn't? That's strange and confusing.
Logged
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 860


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2010, 10:53:18 AM »

And so...

That's not how cloning works!

*flails*

Fun story.

Justification:

When person-duplication was developed, the press and the popular imagination took one look at it and though, "Aha! Cloning!"  Scientists rolled their eyes and said, "This isn't cloning! This is different! Cloning uses totally different technology!"  But it was no use.  The public had been already been influenced by decades of science fiction. 

Now, even scientists grudgingly call it "cloning" when they're talking to the press.  But they die a little inside, every time.

That was pretty much my internal edit.

For me, this is a story with much potential, most of it missed. I thought a little more exploration of the real Weird Future consequences of this technology would have been interesting. Immortality! The world's best doctor as your personal G.P.! Incredibly hot (and creepy) threesomes! Incredibly weird labor negotiations! Even the political ramifications - which the story was more or less about - were weakened by having Ted the only proxy mentioned directly by the story.

That said, I really enjoyed the themes the story did delve into. Ted's growing identity crisis, the ways his personality buckled and shifted under the pressure of being a Ted rather than the Ted. I also enjoyed the character portrait of a politician who was both more and less than a mensch.

I did find the end a bit unsettling. It was very disquieting, to end on such an uncertain, uneasy, and frankly disturbing note as Ted fearing for his life. It seemed out of place in what was basically a fun, weird story.

Which I basically enjoyed.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
Rachel Udin
Extern
*
Posts: 13


« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2010, 09:33:29 PM »

I have to say I like the reading of Ted... that said, I thought Ted, eventually came off as likable, and I felt a little bad that he was going towards his inevitable death with a smile.

I also like how over time he separated himself from Ted proper, became close to the town folk and though he had a political agenda, seemed to really become attached in a way. There is even a larger separation between so-called clone Ted and Ted going to the white house in terms of moral implications. First with the idea of killing the clones at all, which clone Ted doesn't seem to like, even if it's not him, and then the swindling to get constituents. Did they leave behind some of the copying of his brain so he could get the job done better?

This story also reminded me of an old Escape pod episode--I forgot which one exactly where the guy cloned himself for the experience that his clones had, though it was darker, some of the themes kind of felt the same--using clones as a tool to gain and then destroying them at the end, where the clone is more likable than the actual person.

This kind of theming also reminds me of such polarizing Sci-fi themes as the robot is more human than the human, or the alien is more kind than the human. And if it's not that, then it's a simple us v. them. In this case the clone is more human than the "real" human. I'd love someone to be able to attack the gre/ay between these extremes once in a while. I'd like to see that twisted with more than relying on these two conventions.
Logged
Scattercat
Caution:
Editor
*****
Posts: 4398


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2010, 09:55:01 PM »

It's hardly a blind reiteration of the convention here; the clone has different experiences than the original and grows apart naturally, not because artificial is better than real.  The clone gets the actual life connecting with the actual people he wants to serve.  The real politician stays in Washington and grows more and more distant.  It's only natural that he wouldn't care much if the clones get killed; he's never really met them, and in his mind they're just "proxies," tools to accomplish a task, no more meriting a thought than the cow that provided his steak or the lettuce plant that died for his salad.  Really, the story is more about how experience changes us than about how non-humans are automatically better than humans.  I agree that that trope is often overused or used badly, but it doesn't really fit this story.
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
blueeyeddevil
Peltast
***
Posts: 104


« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2010, 12:30:38 PM »

Hmmmmm,

I wish I'd finished the story earlier. I would've liked to get a fresh take on it from certain inquiring minds, because I just don't see this story in the terms others have.

First, the short and wiseass review:
Another possible title, at least for this reading: "The Election Song Of Smidgen The Snack-Candidate"
I am surprised that people liked this reading and voice when so many absolutely hated/were skeeved out by Cmar's reading for "Smidgen". The parallells don't end there either. Both are the stories of artificial beings created with an inborn desire for the furtherance of a certain goal, who use all possible charm and persuasion to reach said goal, which in the end results in their destruction.
The story was good, but more compelling as a conceptual springboard for larger ideas (detailed below) than for its own plot-merit. The ending, I felt, was rather stereotypical, though that isn't a bad thing in this case. I'm surprised that no-one else twigged on to the idea that this haircut is a specific act of individuality (in order to maintain identical appearance I assume the campaign had carefully trained hairdressers who only cut the porxies' hair in the same style at the same time) and is literally cut off in the middle, the dooming stroke, as it were.

Alright, more theoretical stuff down here, read on at peril of boredom:


When the speculative element of the story is left as vague as this one is, and leaves things open enough so that it doesn't necessarily contradict any known biological or physical facts, I then feel far less need to worry about the particulars. I know this story contradicts what is currently understood about cloning, but it makes a point of indicating that this is not the world as we know it...the point of cloning in this case is to create an actual double. Whatever that entails is left, I believe, intentionally vague.
This shouldn't be so hard to swallow for the sake of a story; the most popular podcast novel so far written is based on an (ironically) identical principle.

This has been hashed out already, so let me get to my real point:
The real question being asked here, it seems to me, primarily concerns the nature of identity, power structure, and philosophical affiliation. The secondary concepts that are brought out through the initial list include: the wisdom and necessity of a large centralized government, the need to produce (literally produce, in fact mass produce, in this case) a professional ruling class or group, and whether (this is an issue as big and old as history) the ends ever really justify the means.

The questions that don't get asked explicitly in the story, but I think should be, are: Can a man have his proxy as vice-president, with the capabilty of copying the president out there, does there even need to be the office of vice president. When one individual is elected on the deeds of somone else who is nigh-identical to said individual, does that person indeed become interchangable.  Is the leader the man, or the concepts the man embodies?
Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 6447



WWW
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2010, 01:50:08 PM »

I am surprised that people liked this reading and voice when so many absolutely hated/were skeeved out by Cmar's reading for "Smidgen".

I don't recall anyone being skeeved out by Cmar's reading of Smidgen.  In fact, that seemed to be the part that everyone seemed to like.  The people who didn't like Smidgen disliked it because of the story itself, not Cmar's reading of it.  I like Cmar's voice and it's particularly well-suited for a salesman.  He can pull off the voice of a mock-sincere scam artist, just dripping with greasiness.  Whether or not you liked the story of Smidgen, his voice was well-suited for it, selling diabetes and obesity in a love-shaped package.  Here he is selling empty promises in a hope-shaped package.  And in both cases the character is REALLY GOOD at selling.

The questions that don't get asked explicitly in the story, but I think should be, are: Can a man have his proxy as vice-president, with the capabilty of copying the president out there, does there even need to be the office of vice president. When one individual is elected on the deeds of somone else who is nigh-identical to said individual, does that person indeed become interchangable.  Is the leader the man, or the concepts the man embodies?

Ooh, THAT'S an interesting question.  Especially since the proxies grow apart over time.  This Ted isn't the same as Senator Ted anymore, so after election, if President Ted were killed, and replaced by a proxy, he'd no longer be quite the same person.  They all started in the same place, but that was just a branching point.  That could make for a really interesting "power behind the power" plot:
Geez, Ted's poll numbers are dropping.  Let's poison him and replace him with Ohio Ted--his numbers have been consistently above average.  Just print off a new proxy to toss at Ohio, and no one's the wiser!
« Last Edit: November 08, 2010, 01:51:48 PM by Unblinking » Logged

--David Steffen
The Submissions Grinder:  Fiction market listings, submissions tracker, always free, poetry and nonfiction markets coming soon!
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 6447



WWW
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2010, 01:58:39 PM »

Still thinking about this story, days later.  

I had a thought relating to the intro, the part with Mur talking about the current political system, with politicians being elected based upon promises that they know they can't fulfill, that they pretend that they can accomplish by themselves even though they really have to work with hundreds of other politicians to pass anything.

With the proxy system, that problem just gets worse.  Instead of just one guy making promises, there are 101 of the sumbitches making promises, that presumably the voters feel he actually means.  But if all the proxies are killed off, all that information, all that compassion is lost in one fell swoop.  The promises this guy makes are literally worth nothing, because President Ted would not even be aware of them on any level.  It's bad enough to have a President who breaks his campaign promises, but this guy isn't even breaking his own promises, he's just unaware of them.  From a narrow point of view, it's hard to blame him for breaking promises he's unaware of making.  From a broader point of view, he allowed the proxies so he could be held accountable for that, as well as for any crimes the proxies commit, like the DUI.

And, taking that thought a bit further, if you don't hold the original accountable for crimes of a proxy, politician's criminal activity becomes a much harder thing to hold against them.  "The President was found doing unmentionable things with an intern."  "Oh, that was my proxy.  He's been punished, but I can't be held accountable for his actions!"  The implication of the 100-proxy campaign is that the proxies actually represent the candidate in their positive interactions, so why not their negatives as well?
« Last Edit: November 08, 2010, 02:00:53 PM by Unblinking » Logged

--David Steffen
The Submissions Grinder:  Fiction market listings, submissions tracker, always free, poetry and nonfiction markets coming soon!
Schreiber
Peltast
***
Posts: 129



« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2010, 07:12:04 PM »

It's true: this is not how cloning, as we currently understand it, works. Am I categorically  opposed to stories in which both cloning and the "uploading" of memories are possible? Not at all. J.C. Hutchins and crew do it wonderfully in the 7th Son Universe.

That being said, I was a little disappointed in this story. The use of "proxies" seems a little unimaginative. Swap the narrator for Rahm Emmanuel and it's no longer a speculative story in any way, shape, or form.
Logged
HellsAttack
Extern
*
Posts: 1


« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2010, 09:07:30 PM »

I liked this story. Was I the only one waiting for the reveal that Rachel was a clone? The cost of creating a "clone mold" was high, but hiring 2 aides for each of the 100 proxies would be very expensive also.

I know he had hoped they would make a proxy of Rachel one day, but I was thinking he might not have known that she was one.
Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 6447



WWW
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2010, 10:57:13 AM »

That being said, I was a little disappointed in this story. The use of "proxies" seems a little unimaginative. Swap the narrator for Rahm Emmanuel and it's no longer a speculative story in any way, shape, or form.

Yes, if you remove the speculative element, it would no longer be a speculative story, but it also wouldn't be the same story as this one. 

If you remove the proxies, then it's just about political campaigning. By removing the proxies you'd remove the implied death at the end, the public polls about proxies, the ability of one candidate to be physically present at 100 different locations, the leader board to determine the White House time-sharing, the fact that he's campaigning for his own office yet even he knows that he would at best sit in the chair for a week at a time, the ethical question of exploiting and then murdering copies of your own self, etc...  There are a lot of interesting things that are entirely dependent on the speculative element.
Logged

--David Steffen
The Submissions Grinder:  Fiction market listings, submissions tracker, always free, poetry and nonfiction markets coming soon!
Gamercow
Hipparch
******
Posts: 649



« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2010, 11:39:22 AM »

For me, the technology was simply less "attack of the clones", more "Dollhouse".  Cloning is at that weird place right now, where it goes from science fiction to alternate reality.  Imagine the sci-fi stories written around 1900 with 2010 jets in them.  There was some knowledge of flight, and how it worked, but I'm pretty sure there would be some who would say "That's not how flight works, those airplanes are far too heavy!" or some such. 
Logged

The cow says "Mooooooooo"
Schreiber
Peltast
***
Posts: 129



« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2010, 12:41:41 PM »


Yes, if you remove the speculative element, it would no longer be a speculative story. 


I guess I walked into that one. What I mean to say is that the speculative element of the proxies felt a little air-dropped into a world that was a little too much like our own. Not because it had to be, but because the author wasn't particularly interested in imagining how the world would have changed between now and then.
Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 6447



WWW
« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2010, 04:18:01 PM »


Yes, if you remove the speculative element, it would no longer be a speculative story. 


I guess I walked into that one. What I mean to say is that the speculative element of the proxies felt a little air-dropped into a world that was a little too much like our own. Not because it had to be, but because the author wasn't particularly interested in imagining how the world would have changed between now and then.

Sorry, I couldn't resist the joke.  Smiley  I did understand what you meant, despite the joke, but I didn't have a problem with it.  I figured this was very near future, like perhaps 2012 or 2016, and the proxy technological is brand new.  Society as a whole hasn't had time to change much, except for the direct effects of this technology which is too expensive for anyone but the super-rich to participate.  Maybe it said a year and I missed it, but I just figured it was meant to be very-near future.
Logged

--David Steffen
The Submissions Grinder:  Fiction market listings, submissions tracker, always free, poetry and nonfiction markets coming soon!
ibabox
Extern
*
Posts: 6


« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2010, 10:03:50 PM »

I liked it, even though ( I am only speaking for my self ) but I knew that the clone was going to disappear at the end. I would have liked to see the author give the clone a fighting chance maybe let him run away or something other than "get in the van" its like the " Long Walk" from "Lady and the Tramp".
Imagine if you will the president of the United States who has a renegade clone running around.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.20 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!