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Author Topic: EP281: The Notebook of my Favourite Skin-Trees  (Read 11125 times)
eytanz
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« on: February 24, 2011, 06:44:47 PM »

EP281: The Notebook of my Favourite Skin-Trees

By Alex Dally MacFarlane
Read by Pamela Quevillon

Originally published in DayBreak Magazine
---

BANANA

The best part of these are the fruits, growing on their fat stem, dangling down the person’s back or from their arm. I always bow and smile, asking, “Can I taste one of your fruits? Bananas from a skin-tree are so sweet.”

So sweet and so small, a single mouthful.

I also enjoy the place where banana tree meets flesh, roots curving over and into the person’s limb — pressing my lips there, my tongue — and the small shade cast by the leaves.


Rated R For erotic imagery and sex.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 273: Dead’s End to Middleton
  • Next week… A story by Nebula-award nominee Vylar Kaftan!



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: March 17, 2011, 02:43:07 PM by eytanz » Logged
girlwithsixarms
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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2011, 09:44:42 PM »

Wow. Capital L Loved this story. It's nice to see a future of advertising story where both the technology and outcome are positive. I'm fascinated by the idea of skin-trees, probably due to my tendency to revere plants as a result of my inability to keep them alive, and I loved the exploration of the way they combined advertising and personal expression.
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LaHaine
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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2011, 04:23:24 PM »

What was that, lesbian plant porn? I can't say that I liked this one. I also don't understand people with tattoos and with company logos on their clothes. I do wear band shirts but I change them every day. Cheesy The protagonist was fighting a self-inflicted problem and it just went out lucky for her.
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zoanon
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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2011, 06:49:16 PM »

I am creeped out. I wanted to love the fusion of plants and people. I wanted to be happy about a place without billboards. but no. I cant get past the gross out factor of roots growing out of skin, or the invasiveness of parasitic ads.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2011, 08:53:53 PM »

I love the idea of skin-trees. Except for the corporate logo factor, there's a good chance that I'd get one. I love plants, I think the idea of melding plant and human would be beautiful, vital, and kind of sexy. I love the HIV metaphor - a subculture literally plagued, fighting for recognition - and thought it was subtly presented. I thought that the characters were interestingly flawed and eccentric. The off-beat focus - gay, disabled, student, ecology-focused - added a lot to the story as well.

But.

I didn't enjoy it.

Three things bothered me:
  • Firstly, I really hated the advertising angle. It seemed... well, I won't say unrealistic, because people do all sorts of dumb stuff. What it was, however, was distracting. "We're people, but plus trees!" is cool. It redefines humanity. "We've found a new way to advertise" is ultimately rather mundane. Humanity is essential to our being - challenging that makes for good science fiction. Advertising is so much more prosaic that the addition was distracting.
  • Secondly, I though the Asia content felt very slapped on. That's not to say that the characters weren't authentically Asian - I wouldn't know authentically Asian if it climbed out of my butt and sang a little song - but rather that the story was peppered with seemingly random Asian details. Everything didn't need to be compared to joss sticks and nagas. It didn't make the story Asian - it made it repetitive.
  • Finally - and I don't know how much of this was the reading and how much was the story - the characterization of the POV character seemed inconsistent. Sometimes she was cutesy to the point of being a little absurd and sometimes she was luscious, sexy, and sensual. The contradictions were never dealt with, and so felt less genuine and more random.

To my surprise, these flaws actually managed to distract me from what was basically a good story, which was sad.
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aesculapius
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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2011, 09:18:30 PM »

This was the worst EP story that I've ever listened to, and I had to wonder what you guys were thinking, especially since I almost always enjoy your choices. Repetitive use of one, not-too-interesting idea of "skin trees", predictable plot, tired "evil corporation/advertising" trope, gratuitous lesbianism... just awful.
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Kaa
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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2011, 09:40:23 PM »

I enjoyed the story to a point. And that point was the constant harping on advertising. I just can't make myself believe--no matter how hard I try--that anyone in their right mind would ever consent to having a plant grafted onto their body, MUCH LESS for the express purpose of advertising. I just don't care how intrusive billboards and paper posters get, it just doesn't make sense to graft living plants onto your body as a replacement for them. And I simply couldn't move past that.

That being said, the narration was great.

But am I the only one who is never going to be able to listen to the Astronomy Cast again without thinking of this story? Wink
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Devoted135
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2011, 11:02:47 PM »

Okay...well...

First off, a more explicit verbal warning of the R-rated content would have been great (i.e. the words "Rated R for erotic imagery and sex" should have been uttered"). I didn't see it in the story thread because I avoid those until after I've listened to a story, and while it's true that Norm was actually fairly explicit in his intro, how was I supposed to know that that he was actually being serious this time? Roll Eyes


As for the story, I agree with a lot of the above in that I might have been able to get on board with the skin-tree idea if the purpose had been more believable. As it was, between the descriptions of the trees themselves and the gratuitous descriptions of Kim's sex life, I was mostly just uncomfortable and at times even grossed out. Ah well, at least the biomedical parts were somewhat interesting.
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BlueLu
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« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2011, 12:00:08 PM »

Well, I liked the premise and the characters, but I wasn’t really feeling the jeopardy.  The disease in question wasn’t dangerous to humans, so even if it had killed off all the skin trees, what was the worst that would happen—the world would lose a better form of advertising?  That wasn’t enough of a threat to pull me through the story.  Also, I never really bought the idea that other forms of advertising would ever have faded away.  It’s a nice dream, but really? 

Can’t argue with the lesbian plant sex, though.  Awesome.
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Lena
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2011, 01:28:37 PM »

Yawn.

Nothing more boring than porn for someone turned on by something that does not interest you.
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2011, 05:54:54 PM »

First off, a more explicit verbal warning of the R-rated content would have been great (i.e. the words "Rated R for erotic imagery and sex" should have been uttered"). I didn't see it in the story thread because I avoid those until after I've listened to a story, and while it's true that Norm was actually fairly explicit in his intro, how was I supposed to know that that he was actually being serious this time? Roll Eyes

Well, while it was not uttered, and you did not look at the thread, it is still posted on the episode page on Escapepod.org as well as in the show notes on the mp3 itself (i.e. in iTunes if you press the information button, it's in there).  But yes, can't exactly trust Norm to not be joking Tongue

I'm mid-listening to this story and, while I'm not too excited over the prospect of trees growing out of people and advertising stupid companies, the imagery is very nice and the reading is superb.
As for the advertising bit, I guess it's okay since the people advertising companies love the companies they are advertising... I guess it's just another mode of self-expression.  Not everyone has a skin tree, so if you don't like it, you wouldn't have to have one.

I do wonder, however, about things like going to a movie theater?  With a big friggin tree growing out of your shoulder, that would prove pretty aggravating for anyone sitting behind you.  And cars?  Planes?  Anything with a roof that isn't 10' tall?  Maybe I'm not far enough in the story yet, but how big are these trees?  I would think they would be a massive hindrance to anyone with one.  Especially Pitsamai, who I'm guessing is moving to and fro in a lab all day with a tree growing out of her shoulder.  That's bound to knock over shit.

Either way, I am enjoying the story, I'm really digging the imagery at the beginning of each section, very beautiful.
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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2011, 09:29:08 PM »

Though I have seen the spirit of this idea intimated in above comments,  I think I can encapsulate the point thusly:

There is an advantage to speculative fiction that can circumvent issues of writing ability and plot. Sometimes the simple poetry of a concept, however phrased, transcends the words that create it.

I found this story to be jumbled and by turns clumsy and self-indulgent. I felt that the 'journal of a nymphomaniac lesbian dendrophile' part of it was a bit purple in writing style and a bit precious in content. The switch between perspectives of aforementioned sex-journal and the pursuit of the cure to this new epidemic didn't work very well (though part of this can be certainly attributed to it being read aloud, I'm sure it would work better on paper).

But the idea...
Oh the idea! The poetry of humanity merged willlingly and symbiotically with the trees, the depth of meaning that could be described in people now what could only previously be seen in tableau-
It's exceptional. 
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2011, 10:00:44 PM »

the 'journal of a nymphomaniac lesbian dendrophile'

The Journal of a Nymphomaniac Lesbian Dendrophile would make an awesome title.
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2011, 10:13:00 PM »

<music>

She’s pretty as a daisy
But look out man she’s crazy
She’ll really do you in
If you let her get under your skin

Poison ivy, poison ivy 

</music>
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2011, 04:14:04 PM »

This one didn't reach me on any level. I consider it forty minutes wasted.
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JoeFitz
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« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2011, 09:22:42 PM »

 

Wow. What you said!

First EP episode I had to stop. Ever. Blueeyeddevile captured most of my reaction and thoughts on the piece. But there was something more. Something felt wrong in the tone of the story. Almost exploitative. Perhaps that speaks to the writer's skills.

YMMV. There's always another episode.
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Darwinist
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« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2011, 07:47:00 AM »

Very odd and it struck me the wrong way.  I couldn't understand the whole skin tree deal, why would anyone desire such a thing even with the extra income?   I cringed at the appearance of the double ended dildo. 
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« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2011, 09:50:09 AM »

At the beginning of the story I was very interested in how all of this would turn out, with this strange world where many people have trunks growing out of their backs.  The world was very well revealed to me in the first 10 minutes.  And then it kept going without anything happening.  By 25 minutes nothing more of substance had happened and I just got bored and shut it off.  I'm still interested in the world, but not really in this story in particular.  If there were another story set in the world I might give it a shot.

Some things that bugged me:
--The dendrophiliac journal entries cataloguing her sexual exploits were weird and divergent from the search-for-the-cure plot.  I like trees, but I don't find them sexy, and the writing in these sections did nothing but convince me that trees growing out of people would be extremely creepy, fitting for a Tim Burton film.  Especially the obsession with the rooting points, which would be the creepiest part.
--I like the idea of trying to wipe out mass advertising.  Except that their only goal was to replace it with even more invasive, even more annoying, creepy tree-human hybrid advertising that (as others have pointed out) would be a pain in the butt on buses or movie theatres, and capable of following you wherever people can go, instead of being at least somewhat restricted by zoning.
--The sole tension in the story was hinged upon the death of the trees.  But I didn't really care if the trees died.  One form of annoying advertising surpassing another.  I understand that the protagonist was more sad because of her tree fetish, but I never really groked the fetish, so the tension was lost on me.  It's not killing people, and they can very well just engineer a new strain that's resistant to the contagion--the original was lab-created, so why wouldn't a new one be lab created.
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2011, 02:39:01 PM »

Seriously, how many other stories get responses like "*YAWN*" or "Forty minutes of my life I can't have back" or rants about how terrible it is to liste to what turns someone else on. We aren't this rude to or dismissive of stories about straight sex.

Interested parties may take note that I also called Pseudopod's "Set Down This" a waste of my time, and there was like NO sex in it, lesbian or otherwise. So don't be lumping me in with Tang there... I can't recall offhand any other gay-theme stories I came down hard on.

...perhaps I need to rephrase that last sentence... nah, fuckit.  Tongue
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« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2011, 09:49:51 PM »

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnd, looks like I was able to split it of myself anyway. Oh Noes! Lesbians! can be found here.
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