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Author Topic: EP274: Angry Rose’s Lament  (Read 5947 times)
Ocicat
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« on: January 08, 2011, 01:13:20 AM »

EP274: Angry Rose’s Lament

By Cat Rambo
Read by Mur Lafferty

First appeared in Abyss & Apex

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“Not one of the Big Three? Thought CocaCorp would want a piece of that.”

Rutter had wondered that himself. By all accounts, Solin was a plum piece of real estate, the kind one of the big companies like General M or Bushink would snatch up as an asset. Across the galaxies, they’d grabbed small systems every chance they got. Solin did have a native intelligent race tp be wooed, but there was a surplus of impoverished races deep in debt to the Companies. Very few, the ones who knew to hire themselves savvy (and expensive) legal counsel, managed to keep themselves free.

There was, Rutter figured, something out of the ordinary about Solin. Not out of the ordinary in a valuable way, but something tricky, something slippery or scandalous, some taint the Big Three wanted to avoid. He’d find out soon enough, he guessed.


Rated R For strong language and addiction discussion.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 266: Kachikachi Yama



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 02:35:43 AM by eytanz » Logged
Swamp
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2011, 12:58:36 PM »

This is the best EP of 2011!!!  Tongue

Honestly, I thought this was an excellent story.  Very alien and exotic, yet harking back to the human condition.  I couldn't help but compare it to Tk'tk'tk by David D. Levine (another fine story) for the salesman to an alien world factor, but the addiction aspect added a whole other aspect to it.  I really felt for Rutter in his dileama and actually found myself saying, yeah why not, which is kind of scary, and the sign of good characterization.  I also felt for Angry Rose, though I didn't agree with her at all. 

I liked the honesty between Rutter and the Solin.  The part where the Solin says "We will not survive unless you agree", and then Rutter responds "That is not my responsibity." was great.  And the the way Rutter kept saying "I don't know" to Angry Rose instead of lying or making something up.

The shared conscienceness aspect also reminded me of a past episode: Rouge Farm by Charles Stross.
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KenK
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2011, 06:18:52 PM »

As a drug addict his life was basically fucked anyhow. IIRC the relapse rate for that addiction was very high too. So getting a permanent fix and becoming immortal (sort of) albeit without a body would have a certain appeal. Not a moral dilemma many ever face though. I'd consult a moral philosopher for the truth of the matter or the ghost of George Carlin.
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2011, 10:02:16 AM »

A bit of personal admission for context (if you wish to forego such minor egotism, skip ahead, I'll put a * when I'm done):

In literary terms, I am very difficult to surprise. This does not mean that I see the one and only ending and when the time comes say "hah, nailed it!"
Instead, I am familiar enough with literary tropes that I often see many different endings to a story, noting new possibilities as a story progresses. I can't help this. Yes, I'd probably enjoy the story more if I just rode along, surpressing all knowledge of previous stories until the end. Again, I can't help this, it's how I'm built. As such, I tend to enjoy stories that ask interesting questions, or craft interesting pathways of choice, more than stories with mere ingenious answers.*

As soon as I heard the offer presented in the story, I knew the ending. This did not harm the tale.
This was as well crafted a fait accompli as I have read in a while.
The state to which the main character was going to be reduced was the same in either case, had he refused the deal, his company would have failed, and without a doubt he would have been back on drugs. Accepting the deal offered him what he already sought, the effects of his favorite drug, and the chance for his company and friends to succeed. I love stories that present the gallows choice-

[PP fans, imagine Alisdair's voice here]

...because there's always a choice. An unpleasant choice, to be sure, a choice between the devil you know and so forth. But to quote "The Lion In Winter" by way of "The West Wing"  'does it matter how a man falls down? When all that's left is the fall, it matters a great deal.'

[Apologies to Alisdair]

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Gamercow
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2011, 12:06:18 PM »

I am admittedly not a very big Cat Rambo fan, and when I heard the first minute or so of the story, I said "Great, more therapy via story."  But I was oh so wrong.  The characters were all excellently written, deep, and believable.  Rutter was an excellent portrayal of a man who had to recreate his life, and who has to fight addiction every day of his life.  The internal struggles were well displayed, along with the struggles of a small businessman trying to get his company a much-needed big contract. 
Angry Rose was a very believable space veteran, used to not trusting people or other races, an attitude born from years of making split second decisions and not questioning them.  She made her decision about her partner early on, and was not going to be swayed by anyone or any argument. 
The Solin was a believable alien, with alien motivations, alien history, and alien societal norms.  The Solin plight is a realistic one, they need to absorb minds to succeed in interplanetary affairs, but can not convince any race to submit to their wishes.  That said, I do wish that hive mind societies weren't nearly always insectoid creatures.
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KenK
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2011, 01:58:48 PM »

Sci-fi is the only genre of fiction where such a Hobson's Choice can be plausibly offered. Sure horror, fanstasy and others could make one part of the plot but not as plausibly (as in the willing suspension of disbelief.) And that's why sci-fi is my favorite genre too.  Grin
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KenK
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2011, 02:05:29 PM »

Gamercow:
Quote
...I do wish that hive mind societies weren't nearly always insectoid creatures.
I'm trying to think of one that isn't and I'm coming up blank. A real one that is. Insectoids are just so suited for it. Maybe a school of fish? Single-celled organisms sure but sentience evolving from something that basic would need some fanciful writing skill to make work.
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Gamercow
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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2011, 06:52:40 PM »

I'm trying to think of one that isn't and I'm coming up blank. A real one that is.

But why not have a humanoid or other -oid society that is hive-mind?  It's a big universe.  Weird stuff happens.
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Swamp
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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2011, 10:00:58 PM »

But why not have a humanoid or other -oid society that is hive-mind?  It's a big universe.  Weird stuff happens.

I'll direct you again to EP206: Rouge Farm by Charles Stross.  It relates to your wish for a collective conciousness involving humas.  It's a bit of a different episode as it is read live at a con with multiple cast members, but I thought it was fun.

Or you reach back on the dusty shelves and read about the "gestalt" in Theodore Sturgeon's 1953 book, More Than Human.

ETA: Oh, I almost forgot about the Borg from ST:TNG (and ST:Voyager)
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 10:52:00 AM by Swamp » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2011, 11:25:13 PM »

I haven't actually listened to this yet, but every time I see the title, it makes me think of Bob the Angry Flower.
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2011, 10:22:30 AM »

Gamercow:
Quote
...I do wish that hive mind societies weren't nearly always insectoid creatures.
I'm trying to think of one that isn't and I'm coming up blank. A real one that is. Insectoids are just so suited for it. Maybe a school of fish? Single-celled organisms sure but sentience evolving from something that basic would need some fanciful writing skill to make work.

I'm not sure if this counts exactly, but one of the last episodes of Dollhouse features ****SLIGHT SPOILER****  an army unit with a hive mind (in this case a collective mind being shared by many bodies) that Victor gets sucked into. Smiley  ****END SPOILER****


I liked the use of the litany, and found all of the characters to be very believable. I could definitely see why Rutter would make the choice that he did, though that last sentence was more than a little horrifying to me!

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Gamercow
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2011, 11:01:18 AM »

I'm not sure if this counts exactly, but one of the last episodes of Dollhouse features ****SLIGHT SPOILER****  an army unit with a hive mind (in this case a collective mind being shared by many bodies) that Victor gets sucked into. Smiley  ****END SPOILER****

Ah, good point, I know exactly what you are talking about.  Now I must go lament the loss of Dollhouse again. 

Swamp, I would consider rogue farm to be more of a conglomerate mind than a hive mind.  All the beings were smooshed into one large entity, if I remember correctly. 
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« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2011, 08:13:02 PM »

  I do not see why the wasps did not go to Recovery Co earlier. If it really is a corp made up of people recovering from an addiction to a drug that makes you feel at one with everything, then the idea of becoming part of a hive mind seems like it would be especially appealing to them.

  I'm not sure about how I feel about Angry Rose herself though. Part of me wants to just write her off as someone whose anger has blinded them to the truth, but there's the bit of me that distrusts everyone that thinks she is on to something. Who says that an absorbed mind still retains itself and doesn't just become a series of accessible data files in the host's body? The host would be able to fake being that person simply by accessing the data from their mind without that person still existing as themselves.
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« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2011, 10:03:52 PM »

Did anyone notice that this story was introduced as EP274, November 6, 2011?  Cat Rambo really is a writer of the future.
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2011, 11:11:11 AM »

Who says that an absorbed mind still retains itself and doesn't just become a series of accessible data files in the host's body? The host would be able to fake being that person simply by accessing the data from their mind without that person still existing as themselves.

That was the best part of the story to me.  The end result can be sinister or happy, depending on whether the Solan is lying.  And we have no way of knowing the truth, as the Solan itself points out.  It's clear that it retains the knowledge of the eaten, because of its intimate knowledge of humans, but it's not at all clear whether the human is a conscious or willing participant in the arrangement.  I guess the fact that the Solan didn't just kill this guy given the ample opportunity might imply that the last guy was also a willing participant at the beginning, but that doesn't clarify whether the human is conscious after the fact.

So, I liked it, a very good moral dilemma with no easy answer.  Despite his apparent death, I think his choice was a reasonable one, if not one that I'm entirely comfortable with.
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« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2011, 11:52:27 AM »


I liked the many themes--corporatism (one that humans are the guaranteed winners in), addiction, OCD about 'dirt' (though this got repetitive), and the exoticism of the aliens.

Reminded me of Octavia Butler's "Bloodchild," also about stingers on aliens and drug addiction.

Well done, good pacing, and tight ending.
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KenK
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« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2011, 09:03:39 PM »

That "one with all" stuff would get to feel creepy & tiresome once you begin to fathom that all the other minds in the hive are aware of all your thoughts, feelings and emotions too. Life in virtual fishbowl doesn't seem like a good deal  just to get the feeling of being "at one" with everything. A few bong hits or learning how to meditate can accomplish that eh?  Grin
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« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2011, 09:09:32 PM »

I was a bit cooler on this story than most folks. I enjoyed it but didn't love it, and I echo the previous poster's comment about hive minds naturally meaning the aliens are insectoids. And the way the choices were presented I felt Rutter's choice was quite clear, very little in the way of ambiguity -- really, truly, what had he to lose by accepting the alien's offer? I suppose the easy answer is "his humanity" but that assumes "humanity" -- whatever that means -- would not survive the transition... and perhaps it wouldn't. But there was reasonable, if non-verifiable, evidence that Luke was still "alive" -- again, whatever that means. It seemed like a no-brainer to me.
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« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2011, 09:11:02 PM »

That "one with all" stuff would get to feel creepy & tiresome once you begin to fathom that all the other minds in the hive are aware of all your thoughts, feelings and emotions too. Life in virtual fishbowl doesn't seem like a good deal  just to get the feeling of being "at one" with everything. A few bong hits or learning how to meditate can accomplish that eh?  Grin

Actually, I saw that as a flaw in the metaphor/comparison. Feeling "at one" with everything is not at all the same as being part of a community of minds.
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« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2011, 11:10:35 PM »

That "one with all" stuff would get to feel creepy & tiresome once you begin to fathom that all the other minds in the hive are aware of all your thoughts, feelings and emotions too. Life in virtual fishbowl doesn't seem like a good deal  just to get the feeling of being "at one" with everything. A few bong hits or learning how to meditate can accomplish that eh?  Grin

Actually, I saw that as a flaw in the metaphor/comparison. Feeling "at one" with everything is not at all the same as being part of a community of minds.

The way they described Drift made it sound a bit less Zen and a bit more semi-telepathy, though.  More connection and community than oneness.

This story gets high marks, so I don't have much to say.  I found the moral dilemma convincingly portrayed and intriguing in its own merits, with a variety of viewpoints to provide some food for thought. 
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