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Author Topic: EP268: Advection  (Read 17140 times)

eytanz

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on: November 25, 2010, 11:04:02 PM
EP268: Advection

By Genevieve Valentine
Read by Mur Lafferty

First appeared in Clarkesworld
---

The first day of fifth year a boy came in with the new eyeshields, a glossy expanse of black with no iris or pupil, and looking at him was like looking into an eclipse.

All the other girls said it made them uncomfortable; they teased him to take them out, to put on some normal sunglasses like everyone else. They said they’d never forgive him for hiding eyes in such a handsome face.

“Fortuni, it’s a little much,” said someone.

That was how I learned his name.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 05:05:38 PM by eytanz »



zoanon

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Reply #1 on: November 25, 2010, 11:06:16 PM
I listened to this while rinsing dishes.
now I feel sick for wasting water.

this story sounds like my future.



Wilson Fowlie

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Reply #2 on: November 26, 2010, 06:58:17 PM
I listened to this while rinsing dishes.

Huh.  I came this close to listening to this while doing dishes last night and ended up conversing with someone instead.  So I listened to it on this morning's commute.


This story was a little too obscure for me.  Too many unexplained, cryptic events and unanswered questions.  Okay, so we know why the cops didn't come for - her plant, since she still has it at the end.

But then, who/what did they come for?  Fortuni?  Why?  Was Fortuni engineering rain, or was it just some fantasy he had?

What was all that stuff involving the embassy at the end?  Why would Sarah go to Kay for advice?  None of it made sense to me.

I can accept a story with some loose ends for me to speculate about, but this one had too much for my taste.


I was initially confused by the phrase "his daughter called the cops off you".  For me (and of course, YMMV), there needed to be an 'of' after 'off', because in my upbringing "off you" meant "from your resources" ("Hey, can I borrow ten bucks off you?").

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Scattercat

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Reply #3 on: November 28, 2010, 04:16:14 AM
I remember reading and mildly enjoying this in Clarkesworld.  I remain slightly bemused by why the narrator likes Fortuni so much, since he's basically a creepy, weird jerk.  I feel like this was supposed to be a story about a relationship, but I couldn't ever get a handle on why anyone cared about the rich little twerp in the first place, grandiose plans or no.

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blueeyeddevil

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Reply #4 on: November 28, 2010, 03:10:55 PM
This cut very close to the bone on how little exposition a speculative tale can have and still hold together. In fact, I think it notched the bone in a few places. There was enough, just enough, story to get a sense of the world, but the spare quality of the verbiage left the actual plot a bit on the skinny side.

Just a little more in one area, any one area, would be enough:
Did the rain come?
Was there ever a hint of Fortuni again? A spot of old blood found on the floor of the dressing room?
What is the narrator doing now? The story at one point implies that she's a long time gone from these events.

Any one, and only one, of these points or others would have been enough, had it been explored more, to balance this story out. More than one would have been too much, but I think there was, in the end, too little. 
« Last Edit: November 28, 2010, 03:13:19 PM by blueeyeddevil »



stePH

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Reply #5 on: November 28, 2010, 03:46:55 PM
I was initially confused by the phrase "his daughter called the cops off you".  For me (and of course, YMMV), there needed to be an 'of' after 'off', because in my upbringing "off you" meant "from your resources" ("Hey, can I borrow ten bucks off you?").

The word "of" is elided in both cases.

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Loz

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Reply #6 on: November 28, 2010, 04:01:01 PM
Nope, sorry, this one lost me a short way in and I never made it back. Too obscure and not enough explanation of anything.



Talia

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Reply #7 on: November 28, 2010, 08:54:25 PM
Well, I thought it was a great story. I didn't think it needed any more exposition or explanation. To me merely suggesting the state of the world, through the character's situations/behavior, details like how the protagonist obsesses over the plant clipping, was enough.  The story just gave us glimpses into the characters' worlds - and these glimpses were shown as seen through their eyes.. nothing remarkable, just well, that's how things were. To dare to imagine things might be different, that there could be something outside of the elaborate survival system this world had set up, that's what Fortuni sort of represented. And he offered that opportunity to the protagonist - who turned it down in favor of safety.

As to what the girls saw in Fortuni, I suspect it was just because he was different and had a certain air of mystery. Everything else about these girls' lives is very uniform, standard and rigidly controlled, then there's this seemingly unusual element thrown into the mix.



The Far Stairs

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Reply #8 on: November 28, 2010, 09:51:19 PM
I'm on the fence. The story had good atmosphere (heh), and I like stories with ambiguous endings, but I thought this one needed something more concrete to justify the time we all spent listening to and thinking about it. It's almost like a setup for a story without the story itself.

Maybe Fortuni's claims that he could make rain were all metaphorical. Maybe he only meant that he could inspire hope in others' minds which might someday lead to changes in the world. If so, he needed to be more of an inspiring leader type and less of a silent, oh-so-mysterious goth type who never really did much except wear holo-hoodies and tell people to clip their plants. He struck me as the kid who dresses funny and does magic tricks to seduce women, and no one likes that kid.

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kingNOR

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Reply #9 on: November 29, 2010, 01:03:00 AM
Did the oceans evaporate?  Icd be surprised to find a plant on a planet that dry too.  I agree though, this one seemed too loose to me.  All I really go was that there's no water, cops are "bad", and weirdness apparently conquer all, or something.



zoanon

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Reply #10 on: November 29, 2010, 01:21:30 AM
Did the oceans evaporate?  Icd be surprised to find a plant on a planet that dry too.  I agree though, this one seemed too loose to me.  All I really go was that there's no water, cops are "bad", and weirdness apparently conquer all, or something.

emergency desalination was mentioned, I assume this to mean that the oceans are now the last supply of drinking water.
cops would be bad because the society is so controlled now.



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Reply #11 on: November 30, 2010, 01:52:25 PM
"A little mystery before extinction" would be a better title. It certainly fits the spirit of the story.



kingNOR

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Reply #12 on: November 30, 2010, 05:23:38 PM
"A little mystery before extinction" would be a better title. It certainly fits the spirit of the story.
  could have called it "Makin' it RAIN!"

Maybe I should listen to it again, sometimes external circumstances make it hard to focus on a story and I think that happened to me here.

Anyone recommend a second play through?



stePH

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Reply #13 on: November 30, 2010, 10:01:05 PM
Anyone recommend a second play through?

None for me, thanks. This one was lost on me.

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Reply #14 on: December 01, 2010, 05:26:45 AM
I couldn't get into this one. I could never get why the main character cared about this random guy. He didn't ever actually do anything. Actually, nobody in the story did, really. Except the main character, whose one real accomplishment was that she raised a plant. Actually, she barely did that, really. She just kept it in a bowl under her bed. Nothing felt like it had any meat on it's bones, or that there were enough bones for there to be any meat on, really.



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Reply #15 on: December 01, 2010, 02:31:40 PM
As to what the girls saw in Fortuni, I suspect it was just because he was different and had a certain air of mystery. Everything else about these girls' lives is very uniform, standard and rigidly controlled, then there's this seemingly unusual element thrown into the mix.

That made total sense to me.  Yes, Fortuni didn't have much in the way of universally appealing traits, but his mystery reminded me of a lot of guys that I've seen girls crush on, totally made sense to me. 

I'm pretty much with blueeyeddevil on this one, a bit of clarity in ANY of the major themes could've made this is into something really memorable for me.  As it was, the story ended, and I just wondered what the hell happened in the end.

There was one line that really drove me nuts for its lack of clarity.  It went something like this:  "I received another letter from the embassy, which I'd expected, and I accepted the invitation, which I didn't."  What does the "Which I didn't" mean, specifically?
-My first reaction was that, she really didn't accept the invitation after all, but then why state two opposites in the same sentence?
-My next reaction was that she accepted the invitation, but didn't EXPECT that she would accept the invitation.  But why wouldn't she have expected her own reaction?
-I think what it probably means was that she'd expected the letter, but had NOT expected the letter to be an invitation.  But if that's the case, why don't we hear anything about what happens as a result of the invite?  So I'm totally not sure of this either.

That line seemed to be trying to be clever in its format, but ended up being totally opaque to me, and at the resolution of the story when I'm trying to get a handle on how things wrapped up in an already vague story. 




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Reply #16 on: December 01, 2010, 02:41:01 PM
Sometimes one's own reactions can be surprising.  She thought she'd be mad at the upper-class twit who'd spent their mutual schooldays basically being a giant B to her, but when it came to it, she cared more for Fortuni than she did about any past grudges.

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Chuk

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Reply #17 on: December 02, 2010, 05:53:43 PM
I will chime in with the people who liked the setting (and also the prose), but it needed more plot.

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KenK

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Reply #18 on: December 02, 2010, 07:07:24 PM
After listening to this pod cast and Planetfall I'm starting to wonder if the new management of EP are psy-ops agents for Earth First! and such.  ;)
« Last Edit: December 02, 2010, 07:10:23 PM by KenK »



Devoted135

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Reply #19 on: December 03, 2010, 03:07:10 PM
I think I really liked this one. It reminded me of City of Ember in the way that society was breaking down due to increasingly scarce resources, and the children seemed like they were put on "tracks" that led to their final jobs.

I got the impression that the narrator was about one year removed from the night of the concert (this would seem like a long time to a teenager) because she is currently in her year 6. I do wish we had gotten to know what happened when she (apparently unexpectedly ;)) went to the embassy, because without that meeting I felt like there was little-to-no resolution to the story. For the most part though, I was alright with all the various world-building elements merely being hinted at because I thought there was enough information to at least let me imagine the rest. Also, science vocab titles are cool ;D



Gamercow

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Reply #20 on: December 03, 2010, 04:25:32 PM
I couldn't get into this one. I could never get why the main character cared about this random guy.

Because they were teenagers, or at best young adults in their 20s, and he was "the cool kid". 

I'm not sure if too much story was tried to be pushed into too little time, or not enough story was stretched into too much time, or what, but things were awkward and jumbled.  I had a little problem with the science of the story, as water is necessary for just about everything on our planet, including manufacturing, transportation, and that thing called life.  No fresh water at all would make things impossible, not just difficult.

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


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Reply #21 on: December 03, 2010, 07:04:13 PM
They didn't have no fresh water.  They just had deeply limited fresh water, and were using technology to supplement and enhance that supply. 

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Gamercow

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Reply #22 on: December 03, 2010, 09:13:54 PM
Now that you mention it, I do remember the story indicating that the Niagra cliffs still had a river at the bottom.  That string got lost in the big, knotted, tangle of story.

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


wakela

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Reply #23 on: December 04, 2010, 01:58:25 AM
Emergency desalination of the oceans, and they still lacked water?  The kids are sad that there are no more dolphins, but no mention of the death of everything else in the sea?  Why would plants be illegal?  Even if the planet heats up and the glaciers melt, you would still have the sun evaporating sea water and depositing it in the form of snow or rain in the mountains, and rivers would still flow.  Possible that the heat would cause the water to stay in the atmosphere, but then you would have clouds and not have to worry about your plant burning in the sun.

I know nothing about climate and weather, so I'm sure forum members will set me straight on a few of these issues, but my confusion and questions made me feel like I was listening to an environmentalist /anti-authority polemic.  Though there were hints and glimpses that this would be a very interesting world to explore.



eytanz

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Reply #24 on: December 04, 2010, 08:28:33 AM
Ok, quick admission - I haven't heard this story yet (last two weeks were hellish at work), so I don't know what this refers to story wise, but a factual point:

Even if the planet heats up and the glaciers melt, you would still have the sun evaporating sea water and depositing it in the form of snow or rain in the mountains, and rivers would still flow.  Possible that the heat would cause the water to stay in the atmosphere, but then you would have clouds and not have to worry about your plant burning in the sun.


Two points:

- If the atmosphere heats, then the air can carry more water without condensation, which means more evaporation but fewer clouds. Warm countries don't get a lot of clouds even if they are by the sea - I grew up in Israel, and even though the humidity is very high in coastal areas in the summer, visible clouds (and shade) are very rare during the same period.

- Glaciers stop water from seeping into the earth, and they regulate the flow of water, as they store water in the colder months and release it during warmer months. Without glaciers, in the rainy season the ground will absorb water to saturation level and then the rest will go down, leading to flash floods in rivers, and during dry seasons the rivers will dry up very quickly. In the desert regions of Israel, there is no river flow for most of the year, and then when there's rain they flood. Plants can't easily survive in either case.

The threat, in the real world, isn't that there will be no water at all, but that it will become erratic and unreliable, and that large swarths of the earth will turn to desert conditions, unable to sustain agriculture. As I said, not having read the story, I don't know if that's what happens there or whether a more cartoonish "the water just goes away" version is proposed.