Author Topic: PC142: Abandonware  (Read 13437 times)

BlueLu

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2011, 05:40:50 PM »
Oh!  I found this one so frustrating.  Such a great premise, such wonderful emotional content, and SO overwritten!  This story could have been gorgeous if the author had trusted me to make a few inferences instead of telling me how to feel all the time.  It's not so much "show don't tell" but more like, you've already shown me, so why the heck are you telling me, too??!!  This is a beautiful story + one quarter of a story that could have been cut.
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blueeyeddevil

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2011, 09:25:43 AM »
I find it interesting that in a story wherein the classic Cassandra's dilemma trope is explored, everyone is instead wingeing out about the lost days of fuzzy green monitors and dot matrix.

This story had several levels, and to a certain degree I agree with BlueLu about this being a bit overwritten, though I would interpret things differently as to why it's overwritten.
On one level, this story is an episode of the twilight zone (for everyone who just started saying, 'oh, yeah... which episode' you're probably thinking of "Nick Of Time" with Shatner, or maybe "Misfortune Cookie" with Elliot Gould from the 80s iteration of the program) exploring the aforementioned Cassandra's dilemma problem; if you can see the future, can you change it? Can you believe predictions as you interpret them? This is an old, but still rich tradition. This story does a decent, if slightly rushed, job of exploring this idea. There was plenty more to explore here.

The story of grief, loss, and an inability to let go is decently done, though again is somewhat rushed. The final words from the program suggest that in some way his sister is actually still alive, in the program...

There's a lot more here, but I it's been said well enough above.

I think, to get to the reinterpreting that I promised, that there's a little too much here, both in actual content and potential, for this to work perfectly as a small piece. The world has gained a decent short story, at the possible cost of a good novella.   

yicheng

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2011, 12:40:02 PM »
Loved this story.  There's a lot of geek candy here for me.  I used to work at Motorola as a Sys-Admin, and I remember collecting literally piles of old Quadras (which used Motorola chips) that took forever to replace with Dells.  They weren't bad machines, just no longer supported by anyone.  And I remember of those early zip drive laying around that were so slow by modern-day standards and used those parallel printer cables that would be about the thickness of your thumb.  Sadly, it was off to the dumpsters when I got married.  Come to think of it I wonder if the choice of Quadras, Zip disks, and Code Runner (real-world products that were left by the wayside of technology) were appropos to the story title.

Finally, +1 Geek Cred for mentioning Alienware.

ts52

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2011, 05:00:03 PM »
I absolutely loved this story. Hit very close to home, as I have a box of zip disks that I inherited from my Dad after he died. I should really try to dig through those sometime.

kibitzer

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2011, 09:10:22 PM »
Commenting at this point -- especially to say how much I enjoyed the story -- seems redundant.

However, I really did love this one. There was a lot of reality both in the geek trappings and in the family tensions, particularly the bit about the sister being the buffer between the boy and his dad. Take away the buffer and you get friction. Families, eh? Who'd have 'em? ;-)

I think I like the resolution but I'm not sure. I was waiting to see what Bad Thing would happen to the kid but he went and burned/erased Seldon before that happened. So, kudos to the character... I suppose if The Bad Thing happened it'd be tipping into Pseudopod territory.

Sometimes you get a story where you want to stay with the characters, in their world, see what happens to them. You care about them. This, for me, is one of those.

Listener

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #25 on: February 08, 2011, 09:14:51 PM »
Not much to add, except that did anyone else think Chris Reynaga's dad voice was heavily influenced by Nathan Fillion? Because I totally heard it.

Also, I'm curious: in the bio, were the use of nongendered pronouns at the request of the author or simply the reader's choice?
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hautdesert

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2011, 08:02:59 AM »
Se didn't request it, but I knew from an old conversation that An preferred the use of gender neutral pronouns when referring to hir.  I did double-check before I went ahead and used them, partly because a lot of folks have very good reasons not to be public about their gender identity, and partly because there are several sets of pronouns and I wasn't sure which ones se preferred.

So, my choice, but I did consult with hir.

Max e^{i pi}

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2011, 11:51:28 AM »
...because a lot of folks have very good reasons not to be public about their gender identity...
This is true. Whenever I meet new people in a chat online I always ask which pronouns they'd prefer. Note, I do not ask their gender, but which pronouns we should use when discussing them.
Also, thank you. I re-listened to the intro and just caught the gender-nuetral pronouns now, in the quiet of my home. The first time I heard it, on the bus, I thought it was just background noise preventing me from hearing properly. But now I know how those pronouns are pronounced (I've only ever seen them in print, and whatever you call the letter on your monitor).
Oh, and you could use the male pronouns for me.
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Clearshades

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2011, 04:38:24 PM »
I would like to chime in on the 76 MB of plain text code debate.

Personally, I'm not a computer kind of guy. To me, Clarke's third law is almost a constant phenomenon even in my daily life. That being said, when I read hard science fiction, the presentation of details can either bore me to tears or cause my sense of understanding to deepen my enjoyment of the piece.

In this story, the explanation of how much plain text 76 MB is what launched a sudden sense of wonder with the program. The structure of the story made it obvious that something important was on the disk but that one detail sold it for me that this was something of Magic and I never paused to think about how long it would take her to write all of it. Maybe that's just my luddite brain showing itself.

kibitzer

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2011, 08:39:06 PM »
In this story, the explanation of how much plain text 76 MB is what launched a sudden sense of wonder with the program. The structure of the story made it obvious that something important was on the disk but that one detail sold it for me that this was something of Magic and I never paused to think about how long it would take her to write all of it. Maybe that's just my luddite brain showing itself.

Well now speaking as a technical guy, that means it was a good explanation. If it gives you a sense of how much could be going on there, it's handily done the job.

Twist

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #30 on: February 10, 2011, 04:17:44 PM »
I liked this story but it felt wrong for Podcastle. Felt more like an Escapepod story to me. This felt more like technological precognition (due to the huge size of the source file and my knowledge as a programmer that it takes a ton of code to break even a megabyte of source code when programming) than fantastical precognition.

Also I would have liked a better resolution. Why did the sister ignore the warnings? Did she even get a warning? Maybe she got so bored knowing what was going to happen that she stopped running the program and hence didn't get a warning.

Scattercat

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #31 on: February 10, 2011, 04:23:37 PM »
Also I would have liked a better resolution. Why did the sister ignore the warnings?

I read it as, "She wants more than anything to find an example of true randomness because she feels weighed down by the way everything is predictable.  She tries to escape the grip of her wyrd, and the only way to do that is through her death, in grand Norse tradition."

She goes to the accident because it is random and senseless, in other words.  The terrible discovery her brother makes is that she wanted it to end that way, that she was in pain and suicidal.
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eytanz

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #32 on: February 11, 2011, 09:26:55 AM »
Also I would have liked a better resolution. Why did the sister ignore the warnings?

I read it as, "She wants more than anything to find an example of true randomness because she feels weighed down by the way everything is predictable.  She tries to escape the grip of her wyrd, and the only way to do that is through her death, in grand Norse tradition."

She goes to the accident because it is random and senseless, in other words.  The terrible discovery her brother makes is that she wanted it to end that way, that she was in pain and suicidal.

I think that's a bit of an overstatement of what's in the story. First, as I still maintain, we have no evidence that the sister used SHELDON to predict her death. All we know is what it would have told her, had she done so. And we also know what it has to tell her now that she is dead. Which is revealing enough.

Second, even if she had read it, the warnings were quite vague - "a truly random occurance" does not necessarily mean "something fatal". It means "something special". She would have known that randomness brings risk, but by its very nature, the promise of randomness does not guaruntee any outcome, including death.

Third, the fact that when asked for good news for a person who is already dead, SHELDON replies with "good news, it's over", doesn't mean that that person is suicidal (though I accept that the narrator did interpret it that way). I am in no way suicidal, and there is a lot I really love about my life. But there is also a lot in my life I would be very happy to leave behind. SHELDON was programmed to give good news, and presumably "it's over" is the best news it could come up with. That doesn't mean it's what the sister would have chosen or wanted.

Scattercat

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #33 on: February 11, 2011, 10:57:21 AM »
Well, I went with what the protagonist seemed to assume.  It certainly didn't feel like we were supposed to take that scene as only applying to him - remember that rigmarole about "the thing I didn't want to know"?
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asgardian

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #34 on: February 12, 2011, 04:07:00 AM »
Wow - liked this one SO MUCH.  I got the impression that his sister used SHELDON a lot, and the narrator mentioned that she would just 'drop by' and made references to 'running interference' with their father, like she knew how to handle just about any situation - well, if one had a program that could tell the future, that would be much easier to do.  It sounded a little more than sibling closeness to me, especially given the age difference between the two of them.

The only thing I stumbled on in the story at all was "Burn this disk"  It took me a good break after the first listening to figure out that it meant 'destroy' and not 'copy onto a CD' - once my mega-slow brain clicked in, I had to listen again with a fresh ear.  I'm sure this wording was done on purpose for that very reason.

Overwritten?  Really?  It's hard to write about the experience of the death of someone close - it's such an internal process, and it's hard to do the 'show vs tell' in this sort of story.  Overall I thought a balance between the two was struck pretty well.
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eytanz

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #35 on: February 12, 2011, 01:49:19 PM »
Well, I went with what the protagonist seemed to assume.  It certainly didn't feel like we were supposed to take that scene as only applying to him - remember that rigmarole about "the thing I didn't want to know"?

But the story was brilliant in establishing how the protagonist is an unreliable narrator - his perceptions, throughout, are very much skewed by his grief. I don't think that we are safe in assuming what the narrator does about the emotional state of anyone, especially not his sister.

Gamercow

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #36 on: February 25, 2011, 03:01:15 PM »
I will chime in adding my praise to the pile, and add one more thing: 

I loved the display of emotional stress that the MC goes through trying to decide how to interpret the "It's okay, it's over." messages.  It is a simple message, but could mean so many things depending on how you looked at it.
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try harder

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #37 on: March 03, 2011, 06:13:08 PM »
I really loved this episode. I rarely read stories about sibling grief, and it was both painful and a sort of relief to hear this one. Though I didn't get most of the programming jokes, I did get everything about the emotions that the main character struggled with, especially regarding his dad. I wrote a little more about it on my site if anyone is interested.

LaShawn

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2011, 12:29:59 PM »
First of all, let me say that I did not listen to the podcast. I just so happened to read the story on Fantasy Magazine today (if you think my backlog for Podcastle is bad :D), and when I was coming here to make a comment on The Coalwoman, I was startled to see this in the forum. I didn't know that Podcastle did it here. Coincidence?

::tries real hard not to think about it::

That said, I loved the story, even though I didn't get most of the programming references. I found the SELDON program a little spooky, but more sad than anything. Thinking about the messages, there were times it felt a little hopeful. In a weird way, I wondered if Andy had herself programmed it to in a way comfort the MC.

I better stick this in my listening queue now so I can listen to it...in a couple of months.
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Wilson Fowlie

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Re: PC142: Abandonware
« Reply #39 on: March 07, 2011, 03:40:16 PM »
In a weird way, I wondered if Andy had herself programmed it to in a way comfort the MC.

Oo, yes! And planted a $20 while she was at it!
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