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Author Topic: EP267: Planetfall  (Read 9551 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
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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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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Devoted135
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« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2010, 03:15:40 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?

Mostly just speculation on my part, based on the feeling contained in the main character's report back to his ship that this particular episode was over now. But it's been a few days so I could definitely be remembering wrong.
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iamafish
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« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2010, 06:54:23 PM »

eugh.

I love a really detailed and well thought out world like the one in the this story, but setting is no substitute for plot.

The World Building seemed to be really heavy handed here. There was too much exposition and not enough action for my liking. It didn't help that the plot was pretty weak and only seemed to serve as a platform for showing off the detailed and interesting world. Similarly the characters were never really explored. so I never got the impression than I knew who the two protagonists were.

Another really jarring thing was that the reading was pretty terrible. It was far too quick, so I sometimes struggled to get my head round the implications of something before we moved onto the next bit. This was alleviated on occasion when we were straight up told those implication. Too much tell and not enough show in some cases, which was rather annoying.

overall quite disappointing.
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Talia
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« Reply #22 on: November 23, 2010, 09:38:56 PM »

eugh.

I love a really detailed and well thought out world like the one in the this story, but setting is no substitute for plot.

The World Building seemed to be really heavy handed here. There was too much exposition and not enough action for my liking. It didn't help that the plot was pretty weak and only seemed to serve as a platform for showing off the detailed and interesting world. Similarly the characters were never really explored. so I never got the impression than I knew who the two protagonists were.

Another really jarring thing was that the reading was pretty terrible. It was far too quick, so I sometimes struggled to get my head round the implications of something before we moved onto the next bit. This was alleviated on occasion when we were straight up told those implication. Too much tell and not enough show in some cases, which was rather annoying.

overall quite disappointing.

I disagree about the plot being weak. It seemed pretty solid. Its only that most of the action takes place offstage - that offstage stuff is still an integral part of the story. This was just like.. a little side-story in that larger tale of galactic mass destruction.

I thought the reading was fine. The large quantity of jargon at the start of the piece made it a difficult piece for audio, I think.
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« Reply #23 on: November 23, 2010, 09:51:31 PM »

Galactic mass destruction is all well and good, but it doesn't really figure into the story.  You might as well talk about how "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" was about the war on account of it's the reason for the Pevensie children to be at the Professor's house.  None of the Pevensies seem to notice the war overmuch other than Edmund and Peter getting into it about who's going to be Dad while they're alone, and even that's more subtext than anything else.  Ditto here.  For all the time spent describing it, the main characters here don't act like refugees or asylum seekers.  They act like player characters in a game of Traveller whose GM is way too nice to them.  (They may be under the delusion so common to my players that Diplomacy/Persuade and associated skills are like mind control powers you don't have to pay character points for.)
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« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2010, 09:59:02 PM »

Gotta agree with many that this story just didn't go anywhere for me. 
What didn't help was the intro that promised a "sci fi story."   (NO, Scott!  I'm NOT going to start that debate) 
The story probably could have done better if it'd chosen to try to convince me that these folks had lost their home planet and were trying to deal with that reality.  Instead, the story really seemed to center on their encounter with a race evolved from a moth. 
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Talia
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« Reply #25 on: November 23, 2010, 10:49:44 PM »

Galactic mass destruction is all well and good, but it doesn't really figure into the story.  You might as well talk about how "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" was about the war on account of it's the reason for the Pevensie children to be at the Professor's house.  None of the Pevensies seem to notice the war overmuch other than Edmund and Peter getting into it about who's going to be Dad while they're alone, and even that's more subtext than anything else.  Ditto here.  For all the time spent describing it, the main characters here don't act like refugees or asylum seekers.  They act like player characters in a game of Traveller whose GM is way too nice to them.  (They may be under the delusion so common to my players that Diplomacy/Persuade and associated skills are like mind control powers you don't have to pay character points for.)


Well, I disagree. The protagonist obviously finds the aliens' behavior towards the previous spacegoers repulsive; its only the severity of what he's been through - and the possible parallels with the aliens he's currently facing - that spurs him to make the decision that he does.
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« Reply #26 on: November 23, 2010, 10:51:49 PM »

He seems awfully gleeful about it afterwards...
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Talia
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« Reply #27 on: November 23, 2010, 11:01:09 PM »

He seems awfully gleeful about it afterwards...

I don't read it as glee. I read it as a certain bitter satisfaction.

But that just suggests the ending is highly subjective.


(Edit: Having the full text of the stories so easily available now is incredibly awesome for reference purposes. )
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« Reply #28 on: November 24, 2010, 10:52:57 AM »

I don't read it as glee. I read it as a certain bitter satisfaction.

I agree, and I was kind of satisfied for him. The Lobans' dedication to capitalism and free markets in lieu of basic empathy -and the consequences thereof- really struck a chord with me.
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« Reply #29 on: November 25, 2010, 06:20:54 PM »

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.

I assume that  the "protag" was trying to get a bit of empathy from the other.
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« Reply #30 on: November 26, 2010, 07:54:51 PM »

Author here.  Wow, tough crowd!

Thank you for taking the time to listen and/or read and respond to "Planetfall."  I appreciate all the feedback, positive and negative.

I didn't have anything to do with the production of the podcast itself, of course, but I can't join those of you who were critical of the reading.  I thought it was well done, particularly the parts that were in computer code, which in all honesty I would not have known how to do if I were the reader.  The only thing I noticed is that the last line is not quite right -- it's supposed to be "Why would we want more competitors?" -- which is important because it's supposed to mirror the Loban's earlier comments exactly.

I also can't offer any help to those who didn't like the fantasy elements -- just not the story for you, I suppose.  I never knew how to classify it, myself.  I'm pleased that Escape Pod felt it was science-fictional enough for them to produce.

A few misunderstandings to which I cannot help but respond (I hope this is not bad form):

-- The protagonist (Galthas) is definitely not meant to be exhibiting glee at his final decision!  Weary resignation is closer to what I was going for, with a great deal of sadness that ensuring his own racial survival may make him as ruthless as his enemies.  

-- I'm not sure what made anyone think the entire Loban race was on the single exploration ship in the story.  That's certainly not why Galthas did not expect any followers to come to avenge them.  If you consult the text, there's a point where Galthas asks the Loban if more of his people are coming.  The Loban replies that they are not; their location is a "secret of much seriousness" because in seeking resources, as in all things, they were competing with the other Lobans.

-- The Lobans didn’t run afoul of the sourcewell and meet their fate through blundering or sheer stupidity.  They cruised into it because Galthas told them that cruising into it would reveal the secret of his technology.  I suppose I should have presented the full exchange, but it felt like spoon-feeding when (I thought) the results spoke for themselves.  You could argue that trusting him was stupid, I suppose…

-- I’m pleased that many of you found the world-building to be satisfying, and sad that some also found that the plot was not.  Ironically, this was not a case of my inventing a weak plot to explicate a carefully mapped-out world.  I actually came up with the plot first and built the world as I went along.  This story was written quickly, under tight deadline constraints.  Working under pressure can produce strange and sometimes wonderful results.  I was pleased with this one.

A few people noted that this seemed like a good beginning for a novel, or that the world merited further exploration.  Those of you who enjoyed the story may be pleased to know that a “Planetfall” novel is indeed in the works (although that was not my intent when I originally wrote the story).  It’s currently planned to take place before the main action in the short story, telling the tale of the Zayeen-Ashterite war as it happens.  

Sorry to go on so long; it’s my first appearance here, so I am excited.  I hope that those of you who liked it and are interested in more of my work will look me up on Facebook or watch for the two anthologies I’m editing, LIMINALITY and BETA CITY.

Thanks again for all the comments.  Intelligent criticism is priceless.

All the Best,

Michael C. Lea
Liminality:  http://duotrope.com/market_5136.aspx
Beta City:  http://betacity.weebly.com
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« Reply #31 on: November 26, 2010, 08:00:22 PM »

Hello! Authors are always welcome in the forums, and if you want to post your thoughts on the story - whether your original thoughts while writing or responses to what people here said - that's quite welcome too. Just don't be surprised if some people choose to continue arguing Smiley

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« Reply #32 on: November 26, 2010, 08:03:17 PM »

Hello! Authors are always welcome in the forums, and if you want to post your thoughts on the story - whether your original thoughts while writing or responses to what people here said - that's quite welcome too. Just don't be surprised if some people choose to continue arguing Smiley

Yeah, the prevailing attitude here seems to be "whatever, you're just the author, what the hell do you know?"  Tongue
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« Reply #33 on: November 26, 2010, 10:57:49 PM »

I maintain that, upon meeting a new race and greeting them as "competitors," when they tell you, "Oh, hey, if you fly your ship right into the middle of that enormous glowing source of unknown radiation," that you'd have to be pretty stupid that *none* of your crew said, "Uh, captain, this, uh, maybe we should take some more readings first?"

I mean, if it's powerful enough to disintegrate a ship, then it HAS to be putting out SOMETHING they can monitor.  If I'd never encountered, say, an electric stove, and I met some dude in an empty kitchen where we were both scrounging for snacks, and he told me, "Oh, hey, you know my secret trick for finding the best chips?  Just press your face against that glowing red circle," I'd at least test it with a finger first before going whole-hog into it.

ETA: Chrono Trigger is awesomesauce.  Lavos is a parasite that crash-lands on the planet 65 million years in the past, and about 1000 years in the future will break out and launch its spawn out into the universe, destroying the planet in the process.  Same dealie as the thing in the story, basically, except Lavos, while large, is relatively small compared to the planet it eats.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 11:06:17 PM by Scattercat » Logged

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« Reply #34 on: November 27, 2010, 12:02:22 AM »

-- The Lobans didn’t run afoul of the sourcewell and meet their fate through blundering or sheer stupidity.  They cruised into it because Galthas told them that cruising into it would reveal the secret of his technology.  I suppose I should have presented the full exchange, but it felt like spoon-feeding when (I thought) the results spoke for themselves.  You could argue that trusting him was stupid, I suppose…

it feels weird to contradict an author on their own work, but you covered this early in the story:
Quote
He sat at the very edge of the grassy clearing, and came no closer to the well itself. Any sentient being who strayed too close would be entranced, drawn irresistibly into the Source to be annihilated.

all he needed to do is send them into the vicinity.  any probes sent to scout were non-sentient and wouldn't reveal this property of the fountain.

it would have made sense for the aliens to send a small advance team to investigate before moving the main ship so close to an unknown phenomenon but there could be many reasons why they didn't.  i didn't have any problem with this part of the story.
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« Reply #35 on: November 27, 2010, 05:43:03 AM »

Yeah, I'm with Deflective - I thought the ending just meant that Galthas told the Lobans "we use the sources to power our technology, here's the nearest one", and let them approach it (and be drawn into it). I didn't think he told them "fly into it", nor was there any need for him too, since it was established that the source could do that on its own.

An interesting question for me was - were the Asherites and Zayeen human? The story used the word "human" at one point, and the two societies seem to be in line with possible human societies, but of course, if they are descendent from us, then presumably they also developed space faring technology first and discovered the sources later (since we don't seem to have one on Earth, and our technology seems far more in line with the Lobans than with the Asherites/Zayeen).

My guess - they are human, the two societies remnants of colonies, but they have forgotten their origins and assumed they had always had the life magic based technology.

Or, maybe we are the descendants of a colony that forgot its magic technology based past (since we don't have a source) and have proceeded along the Loban-like path.

Anyway, as perhaps my line of speculation shows, I was also a bit more intrigued by the world building than by the story - not that the story was bad, but it was relatively straightforward, while the world building has so many possibilities.
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« Reply #36 on: November 27, 2010, 12:20:25 PM »

I don't really want to jump into this debate, but I LOVED this story.
for me magic is just manipulation of energy *with science*
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« Reply #37 on: November 27, 2010, 02:33:41 PM »

No debate to jump into, really.  Deflective and Eytanz are absolutely right, except about contradicting me; we're all on the same page.  I was perhaps a bit unclear in my comments.  A few posters seemed to have the impression that the Lobans just blundered into the sourcewell on their own once the camouflage was removed.  I was distinguishing between that, and Galthas directing them to it.  When I said "cruising into it" in my post, I was referring to Galthas sending them cruising into the clearing, and once they got close, that was it.

Scattercat, your point is well taken about sending in probes, etc.  The sourcewell was meant to have an effect like a tech-magic black hole -- once you get close enough to really get any readings on it, it's got a grip on you and there's no escape.  Probes or at least scouts would have been wise.  In my mind (although I acknowledge this is not in the text), the Lobans were greedy and so eager to get to the new resource first that they charged ahead.  I imagine the result would be the same either way, unless they got really lucky -- they would have approached before launching their probes, and with absolutely no knowledge of the "danger zone," probably ended up too close anyway.

But they're aliens, with alien thought processes.  The whole idea was that things that seem really obvious to one species, won't to another.  So who knows what they were thinking?  Maybe they never probe anything first, even though it seems like the height of common sense to us humans.  If you found yourself thinking, "Surely a spacefaring race wouldn't do that," well, Galthas was thinking the same thing.

Interesting question, Eytanz, about the Ashterites being human -- they're certainly very human-like.  I wasn't aware of using the word "human" in the story, and couldn't find it in a quick search, so I can't comment on why I used the term.  My initial conception didn't include any link to Earth or humanity or even anything recognizable as our universe.  But it's certainly something to think about.

Zoanon, thank you so much for your comments!  Well said, vis-a-vis magic and science.  There's more to come from the Planetfall-verse;  I hope those of you who enjoyed this offering keep an eye out for it.
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« Reply #38 on: November 27, 2010, 02:51:51 PM »

Interesting question, Eytanz, about the Ashterites being human -- they're certainly very human-like.  I wasn't aware of using the word "human" in the story, and couldn't find it in a quick search, so I can't comment on why I used the term.  My initial conception didn't include any link to Earth or humanity or even anything recognizable as our universe.  But it's certainly something to think about.

Weird - I was *sure* I heard the word human, but looking at the text, I see it's not there. You do refer to both Asherites as "men" in several places, though, maybe that's what I was remembering.
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« Reply #39 on: November 27, 2010, 07:02:23 PM »

Scattercat, your point is well taken about sending in probes, etc.  The sourcewell was meant to have an effect like a tech-magic black hole -- once you get close enough to really get any readings on it, it's got a grip on you and there's no escape. 

Oh, I'm sure there's an explanation.  I wasn't objecting to the idea that a situation might exist that would lead someone to drive their entire spaceship into a black hole.  However, "They're alien, so who knows why they did something that seems stupid" isn't really an answer.  The story isn't about the incomprehensibility of aliens, so tossing that into the mix (and not addressing it directly) doesn't really solve the problem that it makes no sense for an intelligent and apparently highly competitive race to somehow lack the common sense to send probes or scouts first, based solely on advice from an admitted potential rival.  We, the audience, are all humans, and characters' motivations should be comprehensible to us unless the whole point of the story is the incomprehensibility.  I can understand (though not empathize with) the Lobans' decision not to assist the other ship and leave them to freeze/starve.  I can't understand why that hard-bitten competitive edge went out the window for the ending.  I might guess that it was the greed thing, but since that's not actually in the story, it feels confusing and incomplete. 

I like being left to imagine world details or the implications of a revelation; I don't care much for being required to come up with the mental contortions necessary to justify odd character actions.  In the real world, one has to be either unusually greedy or both greedy and rather dim to fall for such a dodge as this; unless a character is established as having the necessary traits, it feels cheaty to me to have them suddenly be so in order for the ending to happen.  Almost an Idiot Ball moment. 

Overall, I liked the world-building.  I just wish that the Lobans had been better characterized as believable dupes in order to lead to their final end.  (Or that the extremity of the black-hole effect had been more thoroughly explained, even if that took a little "As You Know, Bob," dialogue after the fact.)
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« Reply #40 on: November 27, 2010, 11:36:07 PM »

Scattercat:  Noted, and well said.  I disagree with your statement that the story is not about the incomprehensibility of aliens; I agree that it's not the only topic, or even the main one.  But encountering an alien race whose approach to the world is truly alien was something I tried to touch on.  That you didn't feel that as a reader is my failure, of course, not yours.  We'll have to agree to disagree, I suppose.  I've said my piece, anyway.

Everyone:  If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn't, and you'd like to get a chance to read the novelization as I work through it, please PM me your email address and I will get in touch with you.  I'm looking for readers to provide honest feedback and help me perfect the manuscript.  I'm grateful for any input you can provide.

Thanks again to all who took the time to post their comments.  Writing is too often a solitary pursuit, with little or no chance to see what's working (or not) until it's too late.  I wrote "Planetfall" over two years ago, and it's been a delight to revisit it with you.

--MCL
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« Reply #41 on: November 28, 2010, 04:36:39 PM »

I loved the story! I agree that the mesmerizing qualities of the sourcewell adequately explained (for me) why the Loban got drawn into it. But even if that explanation hadn't been there, it still wouldn't have bothered me too much. People tricking other people into meeting their doom is a theme as old as storytelling, and it always requires a little bit of disbelief suspension on the part of the audience. Would anyone really be that gullible? Maybe they would and maybe they wouldn't. But it makes a better story to say that they were. Think of it this way: if the story had been written by Asimov or Niven, would the Loban still have met their end in the same unsuspecting fashion? Sure they would! That kind of quasi-absurd comeuppance is just too much fun to resist.

Also, let's not forget the other things the story had going for it: enchanted demon tech, aliens with reality-warping powers, and giant space worms that eat planets!
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« Reply #42 on: November 28, 2010, 08:53:53 PM »

I really loved this one. There seems to be a lack of straight up, out there space opera on Escape Pod. I'm with Norm on this one: you cannot go wrong when your story is about thaumaturgical lizardmen with railguns whose homeworld has been eaten by giant space dragons. What I loved most about Planetfall, however, is that it was actually much deeper than that.

For me, Planetfall was the story of a loss of innocence. On one level, Galthas abandoned his ideals to destroy the Loban scout ship. On another, the Ashterites have lost their innocence. Having been betrayed so vilely by another race and lost something so precious as their homeworld, they will surely never be the same. I am extremely curious to see where this universe could go. My mind spins with the complications that could arise from the Ahsterites and their desperate struggle to survive. Galthas's "weary resignation" at this situation was key to my enjoyment of this theme. I love it when characters are forced to make questionable choices, but retain enough self-awareness to look upon their own choices and despair. That and its complementary moments - when a character finally loses that self awareness and when that self-awareness kindles into a redeeming conflagration of ethical action - are probably some of my favorite themes in fiction.

As I implied above, I also really enjoyed the setting. High weird space opera doesn't get a lot of attention these days. I liked the fantasy elements mixed in with the overall science fiction motifs. However, I found myself assuming that by "imp," "demon," "fae" and the like the Ashterites actually meant quasi-material creatures that occupied similar places in their myths (or were similar enough to those creatures that the Ashterites had given them the same name).

That said...

The one thing I didn't like about the story was probably the way that it almost seemed like a setup for a real time strategy game. So, the Loban return. And the Zayin catch up with the Ashterites. And now they can compete for sourcewells, upgrade their technology, build units, and do battle. In the grim dark future. I don't know if this is because real time strategy games have colonized and oppressed key portions of the author's brain or because that's happened to my brain.

This is a pretty small nit-pick, and I'll be honest that I don't know what else the author should have done with the same (or similar) setting and story to make it feel less like a RTS game, so it might be unsolvable.
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« Reply #43 on: November 28, 2010, 09:16:12 PM »

It's always awesome when the author shows up (hi @mclea). Not sure the attitude here is "you're just the author what do you know?", I'd say it's more "Heya! Welcome! How's about we dissect your story?"

The reading was a little too fast. The reader's voice itself is fine for narration, but something like this with lots of techno-speak (oops, almost said technobabble!), unfamiliar names and switching between past and present, needs to be a little slower so listeners have time to process what they're hearing. I re-wound the story at maybe five or six points because I couldn't keep up with the flow of words. (Mind you, I am creeping toward decrepitude).

Seemed to end suddenly.

Also, what the frak about all the baby lizard godlings?? How're they gonna escape from them??

Edit: Gonna have to chase up Chrono Trigger...
« Last Edit: November 28, 2010, 09:17:47 PM by kibitzer » Logged

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« Reply #44 on: November 28, 2010, 11:32:10 PM »

I liked the "stuff" in this story.  The fantasy take on the usual Sci-Fi gear of the protagonists was pretty cool.  I thought the space godzilla thing was awesome.  I just couldn't quite get into the back and fourth with the two guys and the three legged thing. 

I feel like I only got to scratch the surface of a very interesting world, the story itself is maybe just a little too low key and mundane to work as an introduction to that world.
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« Reply #45 on: November 29, 2010, 10:07:30 AM »

Author here.  Wow, tough crowd!
 

Hello and welcome!  I enjoy when the author stops by to comment.  Smiley  I know what you mean about tough crowd--I've been there.   Smiley

-- I'm not sure what made anyone think the entire Loban race was on the single exploration ship in the story.  That's certainly not why Galthas did not expect any followers to come to avenge them.  If you consult the text, there's a point where Galthas asks the Loban if more of his people are coming.  The Loban replies that they are not; their location is a "secret of much seriousness" because in seeking resources, as in all things, they were competing with the other Lobans.

I thought that was clear from the story.  The Loban ship does not communicate with other Loban ships because that would undermine their competitive goals by revealing the resources that they have found.  This makes them less difficult to deal with than many alien races, because you can dispatch each individual ship without worrying about retaliation from the race as a whole.  And since this trick worked so easily on this ship, and the ship did not tell other ships, you could theoretically use the SAME trick on any Lobans who happened to go cruising by.  "Hey look, resources!" 

I do agree with scattercat though that I'm still skeptical of the Lobans destroying themselves in that manner.  Their race's sole differentiating characteristic is the fact that they are governed by competition, and so they should be wary of what a competitor says to them.  A probe would be great if they have probes, but at the very least they ought to toss a rock or a tree in and see if it gets crushed or vaporized.

It's always awesome when the author shows up (hi @mclea). Not sure the attitude here is "you're just the author what do you know?", I'd say it's more "Heya! Welcome! How's about we dissect your story?"

The way I took that comment is that some (including me) have expressed the idea that what I as a reader consider my interpretation of a story from its text to be equally valid than what the author intended the story to mean.  That doesn't mean that the author's intent or feelings are dismissed, only that if the author says the story was supposed to convey something that I didn't glean from the text, I am comfortable saying "That's not how I read the story" and consider my interpretation to be equally valid.  Smiley
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« Reply #46 on: November 29, 2010, 08:40:30 PM »

Liked it, though I can't really argue with the above criticisms.  You have two super-powerupped combat guys who do nothing but stand around in a forest talking and remembering.  It might have been interesting if they had been frail and relied only on their cleverness to get rid of the Loban.  

To put in my 2 cents, I thought that since the Loban were not familiar with magic-based technology, their scans may not pick anything dangerous up regarding the power node.  Like if I tried to film a ghost with a camcorder.  Though Scattercat (as usual) makes good points.  It might have been an interesting to show our buddies trying to convince a suspicious Loban to fly the ship in there or use some magic-tech trick.  

For the record, I thought that the Loban might be descended from humans, since they used traditional technology instead of magic.

Like other posters, I liked the imagery and world-building.  I actually didn't mind the reading speed.  I thought of it as one of those stories that I'm not supposed to keep up with 100%.  

I had a question for the author, though it looks like I missed him.  The bad guy killer aliens were described as violent, intolerant religious zealots.  The Loban were purely market-driven, hyper competitive sociopaths.  I saw parallels between these and real word organizations.  Was that intentional?
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« Reply #47 on: November 29, 2010, 10:02:18 PM »

I'm still checking in when I can, Wakela.  I didn't have plans to post again, but since you had a question I'll try to cover everything...

RE: 2 superpowerupped combat guys who stand around and talk...
Well, I hate to disappoint a reader, but I think I may be caught in a no-win situation here.  This was hardly a story lacking in violence or destruction, even if most of it was in flashback.  And  I suspect that if I'd had the two superpowerupped guys wading into battle for most of the time, I'm sure someone would object to my failing to defy expectations by having them only do the obvious.  I suppose what I'm trying to say is that the story is what I intended it to be in this respect, but I'm sorry you were disappointed.  Regarding the general impression that there's a lot of world-building that "goes unused," I always enjoyed stories where the universe feels bigger than the plot of the story.  I think it was one of the things that made Star Wars a success, and I always liked how the world of China Mieville's Bas-Lag/New Crobuzon books always seemed full to bursting.

RE: The sourcewell, and flying into it
Wakela is right on target for the impression I wanted to make.  The Lobans had never seen sourcewells; their technology ran on more familiar (to us) principles.  Like I said earlier, I thought of it as a black hole -- something perceptible enough make you curious, but if you had no idea what it was, even getting close enough to find out would probably get you killed.  In retrospect, this would have been clearer if I had made the sourcewell less of a visual phenomenon, or if I had not had the Lobans realize that it was a source of "great power" -- instead, just a curious anomaly.

RE:  Parallels with real-world organizations
Yes and no.  I wasn't targeting any specific organization or group with either.  That said, the story was informed by real-world events and how I was feeling about them at the time.  The assignment was to come up with a story about people having to flee their homeworld.  For that, I thought back to 9/11, and the feeling of lost innocence and probably worse to come in order for us to feel safe.  And the reason for the Zayeen crusade -- continued presence of Ashterites on their holy ground -- was directly inspired by the similar motivations behind the formation of al-Qaeda (continued American military presence near Saudi holy places).  That said, neither is meant to be an exact parallel; the Zayeen are not al-Qaeda and the Ashterites are not Americans.  I only borrowed pieces of real-world events and used them as part of a story about a much simpler conflict.  Also, I wrote this story in November 2008.  Dominating the news at the time were collapsing banks and speculation that this was the end of Alan Greenspan/Ayn Rand style laissez-faire capitalism.  That was what inspired the Loban philosophy -- a straightforward creed that works well, but like most, falls apart when taken to extremes.  Am I saying that Alan Greenspan should be incinerated in an otherworldly column of light?  No, I am not.  Again, just taking real-world bits and working them into a framework with far fewer shades of grey than the real world.  So please don't take this as an invitation to argue about capitalism or 9/11 or what-have-you; I won't engage on any of that, except as it pertains directly to this piece of fiction.

RE: "What do you know?  You're just the author!"
Please, no one worry about this.  Your viewpoints as readers are actually far more important than what I have in my head while I'm typing.  My goal is to write things that others will enjoy; if I only wrote for myself, I wouldn't seek publication.  And only you folks can tell me what happens in a reader's head when they read (or in this case, hear) the story.
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« Reply #48 on: November 30, 2010, 03:02:50 AM »

Liked it, though I can't really argue with the above criticisms.  You have two super-powerupped combat guys who do nothing but stand around in a forest talking and remembering.  It might have been interesting if they had been frail and relied only on their cleverness to get rid of the Loban.  


I thought that was a plus, actually, not a negative - sure, they have a lot of superpowers, but those are superpowers that quite clearly their society had had for ages. And what good did it do to them? They start out as a straightforward warrior/mage pairing, ready to engage their enemies straight on, but that's not how the universe is. This is is a story about a paradigm shift in their thinking - it's not "people end up using their brains to solve a problem", it's "people going against their nature to solve a problem" - their super combat/magic abilities being ultimately unused serves to highlight that.
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« Reply #49 on: November 30, 2010, 04:37:51 AM »

The Chrono Trigger discussion has been split off to its own thread: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=4564.0
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« Reply #50 on: December 01, 2010, 12:21:19 AM »

I have to say I loved this one. I think the author really has something here. This is a whole series that is just begging to be written. I thought the worldbuilding, while a bit heavy-handed, was a frigging great world, I liked the characters, even the Loban, I just plain liked every bit of this story. Ok, so it was a bit off-putting to have heavily armed and armored characters have nothing to do with their actual armaments, but hell, isn't that usually the way? I loved this setting, I loved the characters, and I felt this was easily the best Escape Pod story in a long dime, if you discount the Union Dues stories. Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I really, really hope the author continues with this setting.

The one real quibble I have is I don't think I'd classify this as science fiction. It should have been under Pod Castle. I think what made it appear on EP was that it felt very SF-iy. Anyway, loved it. Hope to hear more.
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« Reply #51 on: December 01, 2010, 10:11:22 AM »

I'm of two minds about this story.  I absolutely loved the world building and the back story of the planet-eating god-monster.  Absolutely stunning.(I do have one very minor quibble, that debris from a planet would not form an asteroid belt, but would most likely fall back into the planet, or possibly form a ring, depending on the material involved)

That said, I thought the two main characters were a bit weakly put together.  After the first few paragraphs, I had formulated "Okay, its a space-elf and a space-orc(or dwarf), I get it."  There was not much character building beyond that. I didn't have a problem with the magic-tech, and actually really enjoyed the use of the communication imps, which were analogous to quantum entanglement.

I didn't have a problem with the Loban flying into the source well when I heard the story, though thinking about it more does make me wonder why they'd go in whole hog.
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« Reply #52 on: December 01, 2010, 01:13:11 PM »

Thanks, @Paranatural and @Gamercow -- comments that warm my heart indeed.  If you want in on the manuscript-reading group as I develop the novel, send me an email or a private message with your email address.

I never knew how to classify this story.  I actually submitted to Pod Castle first and was rejected!  No comments on why, so I assumed it was for genre and sent it on to Escape Pod instead.  I am just happy that it found a home.

Gamercow, about the asteroid belt... I don't claim to be an expert in astronomy or physics or anything, so you've probably got me.  My thinking was that if the planet was sufficiently devastated (thus reducing its mass and therefore its gravitational field) and the debris was expelled with sufficient force, it might escape the orbit of the planet but not the orbit of its star, and end up as an asteroid belt.  Since I did say that there was enough of a planetoid for the skeleton to cling to, I can see that a ring might have been more logical.  Hardly the most unrealistic thing in the story, of course, but if you feel like sharing more on how these things really work I'd love to hear it.  I doubt I've blown up my last planet, and I want to do it right next time.  Smiley

(Actually, come to think of it, another planet meets its doom in my story in Permuted Press's TIMES OF TROUBLE, coming soon.  I wonder if I have some kind of problem...)
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« Reply #53 on: December 01, 2010, 01:23:48 PM »

Gamercow, about the asteroid belt... I don't claim to be an expert in astronomy or physics or anything, so you've probably got me.  My thinking was that if the planet was sufficiently devastated (thus reducing its mass and therefore its gravitational field) and the debris was expelled with sufficient force, it might escape the orbit of the planet but not the orbit of its star, and end up as an asteroid belt.  Since I did say that there was enough of a planetoid for the skeleton to cling to, I can see that a ring might have been more logical.  Hardly the most unrealistic thing in the story, of course, but if you feel like sharing more on how these things really work I'd love to hear it.  I doubt I've blown up my last planet, and I want to do it right next time.  Smiley

(Actually, come to think of it, another planet meets its doom in my story in Permuted Press's TIMES OF TROUBLE, coming soon.  I wonder if I have some kind of problem...)

So, I actually had to get some feedback on this for my (and Scattercat's) Blightverse setting that we're working on... kinda... going to work on again someday... I hope...

*Ahem* Stupid teaching profession taking all my time. *Cough*

Anyway, apparently it's really hard to break up a planet, and no terrestrial force is really going to do the trick. They're just too big and massive. Apparently a planet's gravity is so great that even if you could disrupt its structural integrity, its own gravity would pull it back together. Of course, this would kill everything bigger than a bacteria (though I guess some seeds and spores might survive), poison the atmosphere with underground gasses, and generally f*$@ things up, which makes it a pretty bad thing nonetheless. If you want to destroy a planet completely, you need tidal forces.
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« Reply #54 on: December 01, 2010, 01:28:20 PM »

Gamercow, about the asteroid belt... I don't claim to be an expert in astronomy or physics or anything, so you've probably got me.  My thinking was that if the planet was sufficiently devastated (thus reducing its mass and therefore its gravitational field) and the debris was expelled with sufficient force, it might escape the orbit of the planet but not the orbit of its star, and end up as an asteroid belt.  Since I did say that there was enough of a planetoid for the skeleton to cling to, I can see that a ring might have been more logical.  Hardly the most unrealistic thing in the story, of course, but if you feel like sharing more on how these things really work I'd love to hear it.  I doubt I've blown up my last planet, and I want to do it right next time.  Smiley

I saw a very interesting show on the science channel about moon formation that covered material related to this.  If I remember correctly, according to the show, both our moon and Saturn's rings were formed by planetary collisions that flung debris up.  The angle of collision changed the result.  In our case, the moon formed, which is getting further and further away from the planet and will eventually escape the earth entirely (it'll take a very very long time, it's moving at a rate of inches per year).  

Shortly after the moon formed, it was much closer, thus appeared much bigger, and its gravitational pull was much more powerful, causing havoc on the surface.  Apparently the moon is important for the formation of life on our planet, because it acts to stabilize the tilt of the planet, keeping it at 23 degrees and keeping the climates relatively constant, while planets without moons can suffer significant tilt wobble that would make a planet pretty much unlivable.  Right now it's sheer coincidence that the moon and sun appear the same size from our point of view, making for very unlikely full solar eclipses where they match up nearly exactly.  When the moon gets further away it'll no longer be able to cover the sun completely and a full solar eclipse will look like a ring.

In the case of Saturn, the debris wasn't flung far enough away to escape orbit. In fact it is slowly, slowly falling back down to the planet, but again it is at a very slow rate as it's velocity prolongs the fall.  Eventually it'll all be reabsorbed back into the planet mass.

And, with all of this, keep in mind that I saw this weeks ago, and I'm not sure what their sources are.  That was the material that seemed to make sense to me.  There was some questionable material in there where one "scientist" claimed that the moon acted as an asteroid shield to protect the planet's life.  Considering the relative size of the earth and moon, I am skeptical of that.  Even she admitted that "it may not be likely, but it would've just had to save the earth once.  There would be no evidence of such a moon collision."  And if there's no evidence to base your conclusion on, it's not really science, it's just making crap up..
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« Reply #55 on: December 01, 2010, 03:41:05 PM »

I forgot that moon was definitely a possibility from planetary destruction. 
That said, with all the little godlings flying out from the planet, the mass of the planet could be reduced significantly, yet still leaving a planetoid there to cling to. 

The solar system's asteroid belt exists where it does because the gravitational pull of Jupiter makes it impossible for the mass to coalesce.  Additionally, the mass in the asteroid belt is not that much, just 4% of our Moon. 

And I did not consider this tiny technical quibble to affect your story at all.  After all, a big effing lizard skeleton clinging to a ruined planet with debris all around it is cool, and for the story's sake, it doesn't matter.  Smiley
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« Reply #56 on: December 04, 2010, 01:18:14 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.

Magic in this setting was a technology, and therefore, SCIENCE.

That's one thing that always bugs me about stories that pit magic and science against each other, especially when they are somehow "incompatible". If magic has predictable rules, IT'S SCIENCE. If water still boils to make tea in the magic-world, THAT'S SCIENCE. Technology is pervasive and inescapable, everything manmade or affected is technology. Clothing. Paper. Fire. Buildings. Language. Domesticated animals. Potions. Magic spells. Sorcery.

/soapbox.
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« Reply #57 on: December 04, 2010, 01:23:04 PM »

-- The Lobans didn’t run afoul of the sourcewell and meet their fate through blundering or sheer stupidity.  They cruised into it because Galthas told them that cruising into it would reveal the secret of his technology.  I suppose I should have presented the full exchange, but it felt like spoon-feeding when (I thought) the results spoke for themselves.  You could argue that trusting him was stupid, I suppose…

it feels weird to contradict an author on their own work, but you covered this early in the story:
Quote
He sat at the very edge of the grassy clearing, and came no closer to the well itself. Any sentient being who strayed too close would be entranced, drawn irresistibly into the Source to be annihilated.

all he needed to do is send them into the vicinity.  any probes sent to scout were non-sentient and wouldn't reveal this property of the fountain.

it would have made sense for the aliens to send a small advance team to investigate before moving the main ship so close to an unknown phenomenon but there could be many reasons why they didn't.  i didn't have any problem with this part of the story.

D'oh... you're right, I totally missed that. Good catch.
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« Reply #58 on: December 05, 2010, 08:41:59 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.

Right.  What's more magical that me being able to type a message into this little box and you being able to read it?  It's only science because we know how it works.  You can have all the demons and charms and thaumaturgy you want, but if you can predict the results then it might as well be quantum mechanics. 

sort of related maybe: http://xkcd.com/808/

Magic in this setting was a technology, and therefore, SCIENCE.

That's one thing that always bugs me about stories that pit magic and science against each other, especially when they are somehow "incompatible". If magic has predictable rules, IT'S SCIENCE. If water still boils to make tea in the magic-world, THAT'S SCIENCE. Technology is pervasive and inescapable, everything manmade or affected is technology. Clothing. Paper. Fire. Buildings. Language. Domesticated animals. Potions. Magic spells. Sorcery.

/soapbox.
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« Reply #59 on: December 09, 2010, 09:52:09 AM »


I must say I really like this one, unlike most I thought that it had a very nice story, as well as a nice world building. It starts with two guys on a jungle planet, it expands out to two species in conflict, we get a world-destroying monster and end up with a whole universe in crisis, caving in to a 'everyone to themselves' philosophy.
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« Reply #60 on: December 09, 2010, 08:58:10 PM »

I thought this was an interesting story, though I had to listen to it a couple of times to fully understand it. The heavy use of description, especially early on, made it a bit difficult for me to get into. I think it was mostly the audio format. If I read it instead, then I may not have had as much trouble.

Also, like others have mentioned, I too felt that it was more an introduction to a universe. Or the prologue of a novel.

As far as the "magical" aspects of the story, I agree with Dave. If it follows predictable rules, it is science. Magic is just another way of saying, "science we do not understand." I had no problem with this part of the story.
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« Reply #61 on: March 10, 2011, 01:23:35 PM »

The discussion of magic and science, and the fallability of science, was developing into an interesting tangent, so it got its own thread. Read it here
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« Reply #62 on: March 18, 2011, 12:02:24 PM »

What a wikedly awesome story. Totally excellent.  Lets have more!!!!!
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