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Author Topic: EP267: Planetfall  (Read 9109 times)
eytanz
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« on: November 18, 2010, 03:04:35 PM »

EP267: Planetfall

By Michael C. Lea
Read by Jason Adams of Indie Squid Kid

First appeared in The Book Of Exodi
---

Galthas Talisar stepped out from the buzzing chaos of the transportal and onto lush greenery. This world was alien, to be sure, but the patterns were almost familiar. The ship’s oracles had chosen well.

Behind him, the transportal hummed again. An armored leg emerged and carefully found its footing on the blue-green ferns carpeting the jungle floor. More than twenty thousand miles above, the leg’s owner shifted his weight and stepped fully through an identical transportal, instantly emerging on the planet’s surface below.

That cautious step belonged to Urjik, who could be called cautious in few other ways. In fact, his reputation had left him few other options for a willing partner on this mission. Urjik did not care. He and Galthas had fought together against the worst the Zayeen had to offer. He trusted Galthas implicitly, despite his disdain for the other scrawny ascetics from Signet Battalion.

Urjik’s greenish skin and jutting lower canines marked him as a charuk, his bloodline tainted by nether influences. Despite this stigma, and despite his temper, he had risen quickly in Rampart Battalion. Even the most burdensome battlesuit did not slow him, and no one was a truer shot with an inferno cannon or a hex-impelled railgun.


Rated PG For violence.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 259: The Lady or the Tiger?
  • Next week… Weather: wild, and planned.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: December 09, 2010, 06:28:05 PM by eytanz » Logged
Loz
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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2010, 09:12:16 AM »

I've not read any of that Warhammer 4 billion stuff or whatever it is but if I had to make a guess at the style I'd probably end up as something like this, at least at the start. It wasn't to my taste at all, indeed my attention kept sliding off of it like a hand trying to grasp the soap of critique in the bath of podcastery. So some people lost their home planet but luckily had a Really Powerful Thing that killed some aliens because There Is No Such Thing As a Free Lunch? How nice for them.
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Kanasta
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« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2010, 06:06:34 PM »

Funnily enough, I actually listened to this in the bath and I also found it really hard to keep my attention focussed on it. Obviously not just the soap. I think it may have been partly due the the speed of the reading; although the narrator was good, he sped through it a bit quickly and I found it made the story a bit difficult to get to grips with. About half way through I got more into it, and I liked the worldbuilding; I think it would make a good basis of a novel perhaps.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2010, 07:37:01 PM »

Color me unenthused.

The worldbuilding was pretty well handled and subtle in parts, but I got a little tired of how often the demon-tech was mentioned, and then it got partially spoiled when they met strangers to whom they had to explain their technology.  (I am amused that "There's a spirit inside the box" is actually true here, as that was a common "Explain technology to the primitives" trope for a while.)  Compare to something like "Cinderella Suicide," which had at least equivalently novel and complex technology and managed to convey it with hardly any explanation at all.

The story itself - the plot, that is - was quite dull, in my opinion.  Other than Lavos reimagined as a bigger-than-planet predator rather than a relatively microscopic parasite, there was a lot of talky-talky and very little movement.  What conflict there was was resolved based on the 'bad guys' having not encountered the demon-tech equivalent of fire and a stone ax before.  That rankled a bit; they remark in the story itself how weird it is that a space-faring race hasn't encountered Sourcewells before, but then that's just... kind of LEFT there, a loose thread that's never resolved.

If you're going to have something be weird, then have a reason for it.  "Because otherwise I can't think of a way for the good guys to win" is not sufficient.  Honestly, would it have been that hard to have Sourcewells be so rare that it's more surprising to find one at all than to find another race that hasn't encountered one?  That alone could have salvaged the plot, for me.

Unfortunately, the best word I have to describe this story is the dread M*H (that which shall not be named).
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Talia
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2010, 10:26:21 PM »

Fantastic story! Not a great fit for audio perhaps because of the heavy jargon, but I really enjoyed the seeming mingling of magic and technology. I also liked how the protagonist turned the aliens' own compassionlessness around on em. It was their very own rationale that led to their own demise. He didn't kill em, he just didn't tell em a certain thing, just like they didn't tell the people who died in space.

The tragedy and horror of the planet-eating beasts was quite moving. I was chilled at the thought of hundreds of mini-beasts zipping off into space - it seemed suggestive that eventually all intelligent life would be annihilated. Because how do you fight that?

Awesome. Smiley
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Loz
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2010, 12:23:16 PM »

The tragedy and horror of the planet-eating beasts was quite moving. I was chilled at the thought of hundreds of mini-beasts zipping off into space - it seemed suggestive that eventually all intelligent life would be annihilated. Because how do you fight that?

With Morris Dancing. Works every time.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2010, 02:06:43 AM »

I also found this podcast very hard to follow.
In fact, I stopped it halfway (on my walk) and picked it up again when I got home, sitting in front of my computer, reading the text while listening.
(For some reason my feed reader picked up the entire text of this story. I'm not complaining, and it was very fortunate, will this be a permanent feature? Please?)
Once I went back and read it, the story made more sense, but what rankled me was the stupid aliens dying in an unknown energy field. Not from the narrative point of view, but from the "story logic" point of view.
Any spacefaring race must have sufficiently advanced technology to look about them. You can't cross cosmic distances without being able to see where you're going, and what's there when you get there.
Any spacefaring race would have studied the source well from afar, perhaps sent a probe. NOT fly directly into it. That's just plain stupid. A race of beings like that would have never left their planet.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2010, 10:20:29 AM »

Other than Lavos reimagined as a bigger-than-planet predator rather than a relatively microscopic parasite, there was a lot of talky-talky and very little movement. 

Ooh, a Chrono Trigger reference!  (Unless there's a different Lavos somewhere).

Anyway, the world building in this one had some cool elements, some of which had me thinking of other cool worldbuilding. 
-Chrono Trigger hadn't come to mind, but the association is obvious now that it's been mentioned.
-I got a two-fold association with the awesome game Star Control 2.
  -The planet-destroying egg reminded me strongly of the Mycon alien race, which live only in lava conditions, and are capable of terraforming planets into lava worlds by planting a world egg.
  -The threatening race who speaks in somewhat friendly terms about competition, reminded me a bit of the Orz alien race, which have a language that the universal translator has difficulty with, so it swaps in "best-fit" meanings.  So they say things like:
Quote
If you are say the question another timeit is *frumple* too much and Orz are *dancing* for *dissolving* the *campers*.
which, of course, means "you'd better stop asking that question or we will kick your ass".

So, the worldbuilding was fun, but the beginning was quite slow and uninteresting, felt a bit like a cheesy RPG game, but without anything actually happening.  The method of resolution was just terrible--our heroes come across a competitive race, and the race destroys themselves through their own stupidity.  Ooooookay--as Max said, it's hard to believe that they would just drive right into an energy source like that without sending a probe or something first, and even if that did make sense, it's not really very satisfying for the big foe to just commit suicide through stupidity.
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jjtraw
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« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2010, 10:31:15 AM »

I felt little connection to the characters or their predicament, so on that note the story didn't do much for me. It's Rare for me to fall for any story where I don't like at least one character, and nothing much happens.

But in this case - the imagery! Massive bones coiled around a husk of a planet - heh. For the language and description alone, this one, for me, is a WIN.

-Jijit
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Scattercat
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« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2010, 04:54:33 PM »

Other than Lavos reimagined as a bigger-than-planet predator rather than a relatively microscopic parasite, there was a lot of talky-talky and very little movement.
Ooh, a Chrono Trigger reference!  (Unless there's a different Lavos somewhere).
Yah, scattercat bought some good geekcred with me there too

Dudes, I have geekiness I haven't even started to use yet.  I could probably communicate in nothing but obscure references to various games, books, and movies, like those aliens in ST:TNG.  "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra, bitches."
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Swamp
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« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2010, 06:40:55 PM »

Other than Lavos reimagined as a bigger-than-planet predator rather than a relatively microscopic parasite, there was a lot of talky-talky and very little movement.
Ooh, a Chrono Trigger reference!  (Unless there's a different Lavos somewhere).
Yah, scattercat bought some good geekcred with me there too

Dudes, I have geekiness I haven't even started to use yet.  I could probably communicate in nothing but obscure references to various games, books, and movies, like those aliens in ST:TNG.  "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra, bitches."

"Timba, his arms wide."  Cheesy
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 06:44:31 PM by Swamp » Logged

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Dave
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« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2010, 08:31:58 PM »

from my FB post:
"Holy magitech space opera, Batman! I want to game in this universe- where communication units use specially bred conjoined-twin demons split and placed in separate boxes- screw quantum entanglement, give me eldritch entanglement anyday! Inferno cannons powered by imps enclosed in runewrought lead casings! Planet eating... dragon gods! Powered armor that runs on arcane crystals! Yes, please!

Also, I think the decisions made by the protagonists here today will have far reaching repercussions.

And not the happy kind."

I agree that there were a few fumbly bits. Like, why the hell would the protags spill the beans on their whole galactic war to a complete(!!!) stranger? It's somewhat hinted at that their civilization is a bit more mutualistic and perhaps even inherently altruistic, but... yeeeah.

Also, the Feren err... alien guys are abysmally stupid. If their technological sensors could pick up the sorcery node (Master of Magic reference, beyotches), then they should have been more cautious about it.

I was kinda hoping for more exploration of the non-magical technology and how the two types interact (or don't). The world is intriguing, and I think the author should practice their craft by writing more about it.
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« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2010, 08:33:24 PM »

Also, "Eldritch Entanglement" is the name of my next trip-hop album.
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-Dave (aka Nev the Deranged)
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« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2010, 10:58:59 PM »

Awww, there's a lot of meh for this story, but I quite enjoyed it!  It was VERY sci fi and kind of, well not generic but it had a generic feel to it, but I liked it for that feel.
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2010, 01:19:29 AM »

I really wasn't feeling this one. And, once again, didn't care for the fantasy elements intruding into the sci-fi podcast... although I'll grand that, since it contained space travel, this one was more SFnal than "St. Darwin's Spirituals".
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« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2010, 01:48:22 AM »

Awww, there's a lot of meh for this story, but I quite enjoyed it!  It was VERY sci fi and kind of, well not generic but it had a generic feel to it, but I liked it for that feel.

Yah, I don't get the meh either.  Maybe I didn't meet this story with some of the same baggage (aside from Chrono Trigger, which can hardly be called 'baggage!')  I can see what people said about there being plenty of cool sitting around waiting for something to do, I can't say I would have minded seeing what that demon-mech tech could do in combat.  But I loved the direction it went in anyways.
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Talia
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« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2010, 09:25:09 AM »

I really wasn't feeling this one. And, once again, didn't care for the fantasy elements intruding into the sci-fi podcast... although I'll grand that, since it contained space travel, this one was more SFnal than "St. Darwin's Spirituals".

I liked it specifically BECAUSE of the fantasy intruding on the sci-fi. I really like stories that merge the genres.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2010, 12:29:26 PM »

I had a really hard time getting into this one because I was never able to latch onto the pronouns the first time they came around. I had to re-listen to each of the first ~5 sections a couple times just to get a handle on all the whos and whats (Ok, two characters, which is the hard-core one and is he a really tall robot? Which seems to be the narrator? Wait, were they from the attacking or the peaceable planet?)

Once I got through all of that though, I was enjoying it right up until the competition-loving race accidentally blew themselves into oblivion. Because, you know, that ship contained the entirety of their race so there won't be anyone to come and avenge them later. And a race that was just nearly obliterated would definitely not think twice about doing the same to some strangers they just met. Undecided I think I would have liked this story a lot more if it had more than a half hour to really delve into the ramifications of each decision made along the way.
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2010, 12:50:18 PM »

I really wasn't feeling this one. And, once again, didn't care for the fantasy elements intruding into the sci-fi podcast... although I'll grand that, since it contained space travel, this one was more SFnal than "St. Darwin's Spirituals".

I liked it specifically BECAUSE of the fantasy intruding on the sci-fi. I really like stories that merge the genres.

I just prefer my science-fiction to not have magic in it. If I want fantasy, I'll read fantasy.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2010, 02:39:18 PM »

Because, you know, that ship contained the entirety of their race so there won't be anyone to come and avenge them later.
Did I miss that part, or is that speculation?
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