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Author Topic: EP270: Advertising at the End of the World  (Read 10026 times)
eytanz
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« on: December 09, 2010, 06:27:54 PM »

EP270: Advertising at the End of the World

By Keffy R. M. Kehrli
Read by Dani Cutler of the Truth Seekers Podcast

First appeared in Apex Online
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Five years after her husband died, two years after she moved to a cabin in Montana, and six months after the world ended, Marie opened her curtains to discover her front garden overrun with roving, stumbling advertisements. Marie hadn’t seen one since she’d sold her condo and moved out to her isolated cabin. She shuddered.

There were at least twenty of the ads, and for all it seemed they were doing their damndest to step lightly, her red and yellow tulips were completely trampled. Marie had stubbornly continued to cultivate those flowers despite the certainty that she ought to be using the gardening space, and the captured rainwater, to grow food. Not that it mattered what she’d been growing there. It was all mud now.

The ad nearest her window looked quite a bit like a tall, lanky teenager. It moved like one as well, and might have fooled her except that its forehead was stuck in price scrolling mode. Faintly glowing red letters crawled across its forehead from right to left.

TOILET PAPER…2 FOR 1 SALE…RECYCLED….


Rated PG For language and adult topics of spousal death and demanding advertising.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 262: Cruciger
  • Apologies to narrator Dani Cutler, whom I didn’t credit in the introduction. Shows what happens when I try to get ahead of the workload…
  • There will be no epub this week; this was purchased before we started purchasing epub rights.
  • Next week… The old west, and some dangerous happenings.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: December 31, 2010, 03:51:31 AM by eytanz » Logged
mrsimpson
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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2010, 02:02:27 AM »

 Grin I have now caught up to listening to over 5 years of Escape Pod episodes within the last 6 months!  It has been a great time!  Thank you, Escape Pod!  This story is akin to a couple of other episodes where I could see all of these advertising methods being put to use in the not-so-far future.  It is a little scary to think that with the speed at which technology travels, these advertisements might become realities within our lifetime.  The reading was kind of "detached" for me, but at least it was clear and concise.  Maybe I've just become a "pod-snob" after listening to all the other episodes, but I still think Escape Pod is the best!
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AliceNred
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2010, 08:33:02 AM »

Loved the story.

However, I thought the person reading, sounded rush and as if she were just getting over a cold.

I, unlike the person above me, have not caught up as yet. I did do the math on how long it will take and I hope to do it in the same amount of time as they did.

Your stories are the best company and not as impolite as music can be. Getting so stuck, shouting at me with same small reframe repeating itself.
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Rachel Udin
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2010, 02:21:54 PM »

The story kind of reminded me of the streak of stories on advertising on Escape Pod, including Smidgen, the Snack Cake. This one was a little less cynical in tone than the others and I found myself kind of getting scared by the notion that ads could go *that* far to take on the mannerisms of the dead people you know. That aspect was scarier than Smidgen the snack cake.

I can't quite remember, but there was an older Escape Pod on making one crave something.

This story kind of romanticized ads at the same time as kind of talking about death and hanging on--which went along with the other stories recently, Elan Vital and Raising Jenny.

So I kind of found it scary and sweet at the same time.

I can't help but feel that ads will die out, with the advertising person that was talking around my holiday table talking about how the internet is killing the advertising business. If that's true, we may have to deal with more sponsorship in television and a future more like The Truman show.
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Boggled Coriander
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2010, 10:33:40 PM »

Wow, did those ads ever give me the heebie-jeebies.  Even if the story hadn't featured the near-extinction of the human race, the ads alone would have pushed this world towards mild dystopia for me.

I think it was the ad that shaped itself like the narrator's dead husband that did it for me.  It was bad enough back when Facebook spent a couple of weeks gently chiding me for not re-connecting with a high school classmate of mine who happened to be dead.  Imagine that kind of algorithmic snafu magnified by much more sophisticated technology, and... eeugh.

Very well-told story.
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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2010, 12:08:32 AM »

When I run to the kitchen during commercials, is any advertizing taking place? If a tree falls in the woods.....? This story is like humanity on a giant collective snack run. Except everyone slipped and broke their necks when their socks hit the linoleum. And while we decompose the ads carry on as an embarrasing sort of walking-talking epitaph.

I hope somewhere someone is pulling these things apart and putting their batteries to better use.
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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2010, 07:54:57 AM »

When the story began I said, 'hurrah, walking ads. It's been to long since we had a bit of absurdist fiction.'
then-
'oh, wait, the ads are a sort of android.' [images of slightly down-at-heels billboards peering mournfully in windows, pamphlets nipping around the ankles like persistent lapdogs and other such ephemera fade]

Otherwise this was a story much in the mold of old silver age robot stories and apocalypse stories (which sometimes were both, Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" being one of the definitive works.

I have to say, I looked at the story and, to stretch an analogy, said 'all the ingredients are there, and it has cooked long enough, but somehow it isn't soup...'

I think its the lack of an emotional inner life for the protagonist. Yes, she cries. Yes, there are emotions happening, but we don't what they are, and in a story without any real dialogue (speaking with the ads is sort of a totem to dialogue not actually happening) some peek inside just to give the reader a little world flavor would be good.

....Ah, that's it, needs more salt.
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Darwinist
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2010, 03:28:12 PM »

Enjoyed the story.......wasn't sure where it was going at first but was happy that it took the apocolyptic path.   I'm a sucker for the depressing stuff. 
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2010, 08:46:32 PM »

This story was just weird. And the ads... Yeah, heebie-jeebies for me too. The whole thing about shaping themselves to look sort of like someone you know, but not exactly, is very creepy and I think very plausible. Companies are always looking to skirt the rules on what you can and cannot do in advertising.

Personally, I think the reason why it's "the end of the world" should have been left unsaid. She would know why. But the audience would be left to their own imagination. The reason is not pertinent to the actual storyline. Let the reader's mind run wild.

Quote from: blueeyeddevil
I think its the lack of an emotional inner life for the protagonist.

Completely agree. I never really got a grasp on the emotional aspect of the character. Given all the terrible things that have happened and the sorry state she may be in, I had no sense it had an effect. Did she see the in-house ad as a plaything? Did she get emotionally attached? The moment she cries actually feels out-of-place.

I thought this story was just okay. If the emotional side of the character was more fully presented, I would like this story more.
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2010, 02:41:36 AM »

I loved that final image of the increasingly hallucinatory life alone on the mountain, serving as a sort of elephant's burial ground for advertisements.  Brilliant bit there.

I didn't have a problem figuring out the protagonist's internal life; her actions speak to her emotional state quite clearly, in my opinion.  Not everything needs to be spelled out, y'know? 
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Dem
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2010, 09:08:30 AM »


Quote from: blueeyeddevil
I think its the lack of an emotional inner life for the protagonist.

Completely agree. I never really got a grasp on the emotional aspect of the character. Given all the terrible things that have happened and the sorry state she may be in, I had no sense it had an effect. Did she see the in-house ad as a plaything? Did she get emotionally attached? The moment she cries actually feels out-of-place.

I thought this story was just okay. If the emotional side of the character was more fully presented, I would like this story more.


I agree. This had the makings of a cracking story but it was let down by the archetypal 'older woman' as if the author had never met one and thought they all do embroidery, grow flowers, have wooden spoons or a broom handy with which to poke at intruders, and somehow come through an apocalypse without the toilets breaking down. There was no end-of-the world in this place, beyond the wombling ads. She even made and served (to whom?) tea and sandwiches. Running out of your meds if you're getting on a bit would be a crisis rather than a passing inconsequential observation. I would have loved to have seen a feisty survivor, longing for her lost Robert, torn over the replicas that kept arriving, and ready to shoot up marauders, un-block the cess pit, and skin the odd wolf to prepare for the coming winter. This story is worthy of an MC with a core strength even though I'll admit that's likely to be another archetype.
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KenK
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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2010, 11:05:24 AM »

Homo Sapiens are social creatures and they desire at a very deep level the benign companionship of others. Sometimes this longing takes very strange forms. But when you're starving you take what you can get ersatz or not.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2010, 12:28:56 PM »

This is not a realistic survivor-porn story, though.  It's fine to like that sort of story, but saying that this story should have had that kind of protagonist is a bit like saying that LOTR would have been better if Lara Croft had the One Ring instead of Frodo; such a story would be a very different animal and could be judged accordingly.
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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2010, 05:38:01 PM »

This is not a realistic survivor-porn story, though.  It's fine to like that sort of story, but saying that this story should have had that kind of protagonist is a bit like saying that LOTR would have been better if Lara Croft had the One Ring instead of Frodo; such a story would be a very different animal and could be judged accordingly.
Not sure I recognise the notion of survivor-porn although it does sound a little derogatory. My argument is for a less wrongly archetypal older female MC. It feels lazily ignorant to perpetuate a little-old-lady stereotype when a bit of grounding in reality could have livened her up and added some grit to an otherwise promising story. Undecided
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« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2010, 06:18:43 PM »

"Hatchet" would probably be the archetypal survivor porn book, to my mind.  This wasn't a story about how she survived; it was a story about loss and remembrance, and as such a slightly generic Old Lady with some habits from Central Casting suits it well enough, in my opinion.
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KenK
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« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2010, 07:11:35 PM »

@scattercat
Now "survival porn" is genre of sci-fi? Who knew?  Cheesy
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AliceNred
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2010, 07:27:41 PM »

Maybe it was my Mac and the none-too-pricey earphones, but the reader, Dani Cutler, sounded nasally, and was really concerned that each word be clear.

On to the story...

The only thing that didn't work for me was that when she said adverts, I thought of small robots and not something more akin to androids.

The tale was great. It's one of those things that seems like a natural out come of advertising and tec.

I think Robert was right, commercials can be art.

Also I didn't find the story depressing. I understand why others would, but for me, it was about her surveying and she had enough hope to plan for the days to come, and there probably are more people out there.

Not really sure why someone above me  thought she was emotionless. I thought with all that she had been through, for emotional life was doing as well as her garden.

There she was wasting time and resources on growing flowers and doing embroidery and for no real reason other than she must have found joy and beauty in them. Along with surviving, that too is part of the human spirt, the need for art and beauty.

« Last Edit: December 12, 2010, 08:48:13 PM by AliceNred » Logged

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KenK
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« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2010, 08:07:33 PM »

@AliceNred
Quote
...commercials can be art.

So can political or commercial propaganda then. Oh, wait. That's why they call them "commercials".  Cheesy
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AliceNred
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« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2010, 08:21:03 PM »

@AliceNred
Quote
...commercials can be art.

So can political or commercial propaganda then. Oh, wait. That's why they call them "commercials".  Cheesy


And what does that say about truth in advertising?
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iamafish
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« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2010, 04:01:27 AM »

I didn't really like the bit where we were told that the apocalypse had been caused by a disease - it just felt a bit unimaginative. It might have been better just to leave it up to the imagination, which would have been a lot more creepy for the readers/listeners.

I quite liked the concept of walking ads. well i didn't like it in the sense that I'd like to see that happen, but I liked it in the sense that it was a very interesting concept that worked well in the story.

I agree with many other comments that the protagonist's reaction to many of the things in the story seemed odd. I know it's probably happened to her many times before, but an android turning into a dead loved one would deeply anger and hurt me. I might end up inviting it in for tea out of loneliness and desperation, but not after getting very, very angry at them all and going nearly insane. Her frank acceptance seemed very unnatural.

I did like how she ended up having sympathy towards them in the end - perhaps betraying that she did agree with her husband that they were sentient, even if she refused to admit it to herself. The ad's reaction to this - to come to her to seek sanctuary in their dying days - was also very poignant and interesting.
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