Escape Artists
October 22, 2014, 11:29:37 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3  All
  Print  
Author Topic: EP277: Rejiggering the Thingamajig  (Read 6639 times)
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4685



« on: January 28, 2011, 02:38:39 AM »

EP277: Rejiggering the Thingamajig

By Eric James Stone
Read by Kij Johnson

First appeared in Analog, 2010

---

The teleport terminal had not been built with tyrannosaurus sapiens in mind.

Resisting the urge to knock human-sized chairs about with her tail, Bokeerk squatted on the tile floor, folded the claws of her forelimbs together, and concentrated on her breathing. Meditation would calm her nerves. What should have been a two-minute waystop as she switched to a different teleport line had stretched to three hours, and being the only passenger in the terminal creeped her out.

The cheerful voice of the customer service AI roused Bokeerk from her trance. “It is my pleasure to inform you that the cause of the technical difficulties in the galactic teleport network has been found.”

Bokeerk perked up and rose on her hind legs, remembering just in time to duck her head so it wouldn’t bang the ceiling lamps. “Please send me to Krawlak,” she said. It was unlikely that any of her eggs would hatch for another few days yet, but she was anxious to get home.

“It is with the utmost regret that I must tell you that will not be possible at this time,” said the AI, with a tone of such abysmal sorrow that Bokeerk’s eyes could not help but moisten with sympathetic tears. “I require assistance in repairing the problem.”

Bokeerk lowered herself into a squat again. “When will help get here?” She looked at the time display on the digital assistant strapped to her left forelimb. She had now been stranded for three hours and fifty-two minutes.

“I estimate a spaceship carrying a repair crew could be here within twelve years,” said the AI. Its voice seemed to have lost the customer service aspect.


Rated PG For violence

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 269: Élan Vital
  • Next week… Linguistics… in space.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: February 18, 2011, 02:23:19 PM by eytanz » Logged
Scattercat
Caution:
Editor
*****
Posts: 4395


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2011, 03:16:02 AM »

Awesome concepts, but it felt like all the early promise was squandered a bit in the simple resolution of the problem.  (We'll just give the magic teleport dragon a day off for weekends and everything is fine!)  I think the overdose of cool stuff (Gene-engineered dinosaurs!  Cheerfully psychopathic guns!  Nanite clouds!  Tentacle-tongue monsters!) meant that the pat ending came off as a let-down.  I could have enjoyed this story a lot if it were a bit longer and more complex; as it was, it felt like a rapid upspike of rising action that ended in a nearly sheer cliff of a denouement, as though we hit some kind of wordcount limit and had to wrap everything up in five hundred words or less.

I'm also a trifle leery of any plot that revolves around a religion magically fixing everything.  I feel that any religion would really have done the job of giving the teleport-critter a reason to continue working; this is its first contact with any sentient and apparently the factor that gives it sufficient definition to make personal decisions, so any ethos with a basic understanding of tit-for-tat would have managed it.  Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Shinto...  Hell, even Satanism could have managed it, if you squint.  However, the story seems to imply that the teleporter acts as it does because it "truly understands" Buddhism, and that makes me uncomfortable.

It was fun, and it was cool, but I came away hungry and slightly unsatisfied. 
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
Void Munashii
Matross
****
Posts: 267


twitter.com/VOIDMunashii


WWW
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2011, 10:53:24 AM »

  A story about a Buddhist T-Rex with an artificially intelligent gun-arm and a nano-swarm who crosses a hostile world to save the universe's public transportation system; how could I not enjoy this?

  The only complaint I have is that the actual journey seemed sort of short; even with the two attacks it seemed like it should have been more epic than it was. It didn't feel like she went the distance the teleport AI said she would have to (and yes, I am taking into account the fact that her strides would cover more ground than a human's).

  I ultimately have to agree with Scattercat, although for different reasons. It was fun, and it was cool, but it doesn't feel quite like a full meal to me.
Logged

"Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse"
http://mallvillestory.blogspot.com
matweller
EA Staff
*****
Posts: 552



WWW
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2011, 03:19:41 PM »

While I concur that longer would have made it better, I feel that way about almost all of the stories presented by Escape Artists, Clarksworld and others. 30 minutes (give or take) isn't long enough to cover everything. For me -- and I'm not preaching that my path is the enlightened one, I'm just stating -- I consider the missing details as cool things to ponder on my own. There are some stories that leave rather gaping holes, but I don't think this was in that category.

I enjoyed it very much, and I am 100% behind what Norm said about it being nice to sometimes just absorb and enjoy a fun story. This was a fun story. Smiley
Logged
Talia
Moderator
*****
Posts: 2531


I like pie


« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2011, 10:47:06 PM »

I thought this was a delightful little romp. The talking gun amused me a good deal, and I enjoyed the idea of a Buddhist dinosaur. Smiley Fun.

Only thing I would have liked to know more about was The Janitor (or whatever the nanobot cloud was called). That was kind of mysterious. Smiley
Logged
Rain
Matross
****
Posts: 178


« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2011, 11:58:45 AM »

A cool story, i liked it.

I have to say i continue to love Norm Sherman as guest host, his intros and endings are so incredibly funny and awesome that i find myself relistening to those parts several times. With all due respect to Mur i kinda wish Norm was the host all the time  Grin
Logged
KenK
Guest
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2011, 01:43:34 PM »

Big fat "meh". Can't see one good thing about this one.
Logged
Talia
Moderator
*****
Posts: 2531


I like pie


« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2011, 02:06:42 PM »

A cool story, i liked it.

I have to say i continue to love Norm Sherman as guest host, his intros and endings are so incredibly funny and awesome that i find myself relistening to those parts several times. With all due respect to Mur i kinda wish Norm was the host all the time  Grin


You should check out The Drabblecast. The host there has a very similar style Tongue
Logged
Scattercat
Caution:
Editor
*****
Posts: 4395


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2011, 04:27:30 PM »

A cool story, i liked it.

I have to say i continue to love Norm Sherman as guest host, his intros and endings are so incredibly funny and awesome that i find myself relistening to those parts several times. With all due respect to Mur i kinda wish Norm was the host all the time  Grin


You should check out The Drabblecast. The host there has a very similar style Tongue

And will, in fact, sometimes go on for over half the show.  :-D

He reminds me a bit of Groucho Marx, in terms of the rapid-fire patter and the quick-step linkage of and inversion of ideas.  ("You could leave in a taxi.  If you can't find a taxi, you can leave in a huff.  If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff.")
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
Dem
Lochage
*****
Posts: 554


aka conboyhillfiction.wordpress.com


WWW
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2011, 08:49:15 AM »

Oh dear, out of step again. From the cuddly children's illustrator dinosaur (with those feet?), through Annie Get Ya Talkin' Gun (Yihaa!), to the empty but benign thingamajig that becomes suddenly philosophically astute without going bonkers at its awakening, I just found myself thinking no, no, no oh NO!
But there you have it, diversity of taste. Now if I could just borrow the thingamijig and explore the impact of its origins, entrapment, empty unknowing existence, and sudden stark epiphany... Back in a bit. Cheesy
Logged

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.
Nobilis
Peltast
***
Posts: 156



WWW
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2011, 10:13:12 AM »

Thunder lizards aside, I liked this story better when the hero was a teddy bear.

The ending was, as others have pointed out, a bit too facile.
Logged
Loz
Lochage
*****
Posts: 369


WWW
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2011, 11:16:53 AM »

Honestly, are people forgetting it's a frickin' T-Rex with a frickin' gun? Honestly, young people today with their badgers with semi-automatics and their panthers with grenades for kneecaps. Spoilt is what they are.
I enjoyed the story and give a shout out to Kij Johnson for a fun reading.
Logged
Dem
Lochage
*****
Posts: 554


aka conboyhillfiction.wordpress.com


WWW
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2011, 11:47:33 AM »

a shout out to Kij Johnson for a fun reading.
Yes, actually. Proper good reading.  Smiley
Logged

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.
Max e^{i pi}
Hipparch
******
Posts: 896


Have towel, will travel.


« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2011, 03:18:02 PM »

Well. I kinda got mixed feelings about this one.
On the one hand you have a genetically engineered T-Rex mama who illustrates children's books to pay the bills and has moral objections to eating non-engineered meat. That is just a whole heaping pile of awesome. Add to that a maniacal talking gun who sounds like Yosemite Sam (great reading Kij!) and a cute little nanoswarm with the apparent IQ and vocabulary of a 3 year old and you don't really need a good plot to carry this on.
On the other hand, you had a great plot.
A pan-dimensional intelligent singularity being press-armed into service as a galaxy wide mass transit system by self-centered condescending AIs who finally breaks free. That is just a recipe for a great story. Lots of good characters, a great conflict and no simple solution in sight.
And then we got a simple solution.
It's sort of a letdown.
So, great reading, a very interesting cast of characters and a good plot line, but the ending was anticlimactic. I would like to hear more about this singularity creature, where/when it came from, how the AIs found it and manipulated it, and what exactly it would do with its day off.
Also, this story reminded me of my favorite comic growing up (which has been canceled these past 15 years). When I was 5 I cut this panel out of the Sunday paper and stuck it on my wall. A little Google magic allows me to relive and share those moments of innocent, childlike delight.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2011, 03:19:45 PM by Max e^{i pi} » Logged

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!

SanguineV
Extern
*
Posts: 18


« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2011, 06:23:03 PM »

I found this story disappointing in many ways, it seemed that some interesting possibilities were created all to be thrown away. Ultimately it felt like a story from a children's adventure game that you can't really do anything wrong in.

The main character starts out with an interesting internal conflict to explore: how does a genetically engineered intelligent predator that is a pacifist handle having to possibly hunt/kill for survival? Sadly this isn't a problem - apparently pacifism is just a convenient choice for fun and real starvation never sets in.

But wait, our pacifist still has to use a gun! Surely they are at least in some kind of quandary about using it? No, the gun is grafted to them so they have no choice and it shoots based on its own intelligence so they can avoid responsibility! Better yet, pacifism is only a choice so killing/maiming things is just inconvenient (and only in self defence anyway).

That's ok, we still have the conflict between the gun's intelligence and Buddhism to occupy some deeper thoughts. Or not... it seems the gun (whose entire purpose is to maim and kill) just happily goes along with this philosophy that is anathema to its entire reason for being.

Ok, so all the characters have their potentially interesting conflicts resolved for free, what about the main plot. Well, that was kind of like a childish adventure story where the choices are dictated and everything solves itself:

AI: You must go on a quest to save the peoples of the universe or you will die. Here take this gun.
Tyrannosaurus(TY): Ok, I'll do the quest but I don't like guns.
AI: You must or you will die.
Gun is melded to TY, cannot be separated.
AI: Also take this companion Swarm.
TY: I'm not happy but ok, lets go.

Monster1 is attacking you!
TY uses gun, Monster1 is defeated.

Monster2 is attacking you!
TY uses gun, it does nothing.
TY uses Swarm, Monster2 is defeated.

TY reaches Thingamajig.
*insert dialogue of expose where TY's nature is the solution*

Congratulations, you have saved the peoples of the universe!


So in the end I was left disappointed by the story. I think there were some interesting ideas and some wonderful potential, but it seems all the ways it could have been speculative were thrown away. Perhaps this story is targeted at a much younger audience?

Good job on the reading, the gun especially was entertainingly presented and good to listen to.
Logged
Swamp
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2224



WWW
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2011, 08:07:08 PM »

I have to say i continue to love Norm Sherman as guest host

Sorry to nitpick, but Norm is a regular co-host.  He hosts 50% of the time.  I like the back and forth between them.  I do think it's funny that Norm gets all of the giant lizard stories.  Too funny.

Thunder lizards aside, I liked this story better when the hero was a teddy bear.

 Cheesy  I also thought of Edward Bear as I was listening to this.

However, I think I liked this story more than you did, Nobilis.  It was fun and not meant to be taken too seriously.
Logged

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast
tinygaia
Peltast
***
Posts: 81



« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2011, 08:55:22 PM »

First, to echo everyone else: Buddhist children's book illustrator T-rex? Heck, yeah! And great reading by Kij. My biggest problem with this story is not that it ended too abruptly but that it didn't have enough of that talking gun. Where do I get one of those?

I also enjoyed the monsters in this story. When the AI suggested that the monsters outside the dome were bigger and faster than a t-rex, my feeble little imagination summoned up, I don't know, Mega-T-rex, or something equally unoriginal. The giant-tongue-thing with hundreds of eyes was better.
Logged
goatkeeper
Guest
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2011, 11:57:19 PM »

I have to say i continue to love Norm Sherman as guest host

Sorry to nitpick, but Norm is a regular co-host.  He hosts 50% of the time.  I like the back and forth between them.  I do think it's funny that Norm gets all of the giant lizard stories.  Too funny.


Hehe, you know, I just saw someone twittering about me as the 'guest host' and thought jeez, I've been doing this well over a year now, when can a brotha finally take off and hang his coat?
I'm very much enjoying being on the monthly seesaw with Mur.  As long as I get stories with parasites and dinosaurs and she gets stories that involve tact and wherewithal.
Logged
zerotkatama
Extern
*
Posts: 10


« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2011, 09:04:25 AM »

Wow, this one was fun! Thank you Escape Pod! Not much deep to say about this, but if I may, this was like Jurassic Park meets Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with a little bit of Portal thrown in for flavor  Grin
Logged
BigGreen
Extern
*
Posts: 1


« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2011, 05:27:21 PM »

I really loved this story.  I liked that the lizard was thrust into an adventure with a talking gun and creepy nano storm.  It has all the makings to be a much longer story than it actually is.   

The transport network being manipulated by the AIs remind me much of the Hyperion series. 
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.20 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!