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Author Topic: EP281: The Notebook of my Favourite Skin-Trees  (Read 11871 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2011, 03:15:14 AM »

This story really, really annoyed me. The prose was self-indulgent and samey, the characters were irritating, and the plot was weak.

I couldn't fathom why anyone would want to protest in favour of a new type of advertising. I mean there are plenty of perfectly reasonable and just causes to inspire you to take to the streets, but tree advertising is not one of them. Honestly, what would a protest even achieve? Unless this future exists in some socialist paradise were everything is controlled by the government, including advertising (which may have been hinted at by comments about legislation regarding advertising - legislation stating what, exactly?), there seems to be no point in protesting in favour of a new form of advertising. If it is actually better, then people will vote with their feet and adopt it.

That being said I was never convinced of its virtue. For one, I wasn't sure why anyone would want a tree on their shoulder. Those that would, aren't the type of people to be so enamoured with a product that they want to use the new body mod to advertise it. And only advertising one product? Surely that's a terrible use of advertising space? The fact that having a tree attached to you would be super inconvenient has already been mentioned, so I won't go over that again.

I was actually pretty confused, in part by the names, in part by the jumpy nature of the prose, and in part by the lack of decent characterisation, about who was who in this story. It was jarring that the story was told both in the third and first person, without any real explanation until towards the end. I had trouble sympathising with the protagonist because I wasn't actually sure who she was, apart from someone who really loves plants, i mean, really loves them, especially jasmine, seriously, we get the damn point about jasmine, stop telling us in painfully prosaic language about sex with the damn jasmine.

The plot lacked any real conflict, especially when the dieing plants didn't seem to be much of an issue beyond leaving you with annoying deadwood and no more fuck-buddies. If people's lives, not just their sex lives, had been at risk, or if the main character and her connection with her Durian had been someone with which we could sympathise, maybe i might have cared, but as it was, there was nothing to really care about. That a cure would be found was pretty predictable, and there never seemed to be any real threat if one wasn't. I'm not sure anything changed by the end of th story. The good guys won, the evil cooperations were defeated (I'd have gotten away with it, if it weren't for you meddling kids), and no-one seemed to learn anything, least of all the main characters, who were exactly as dull and defined by their sex with trees as before.

Possibly my least favourite Escape Artist product to date. Sad
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« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2011, 09:32:34 AM »

If this future ever happens I'm going to become a chiropractor to straighten all the back bent from the trees.  And then the trees can advertise for me.  Whoo!
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« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2011, 02:25:35 PM »

If this future ever happens I'm going to become a chiropractor to straighten all the back bent from the trees.  And then the trees can advertise for me.  Whoo!

Unless the root systems actually go into your back to strengthen you so you can take having the weight on you all the time, which would be pretty cool.
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Talia
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« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2011, 03:03:14 PM »

I'm not sure, but I think they're genetically modified miniature trees. In which case, I want a pomegranate tree. Because yum.
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« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2011, 04:11:19 PM »

I'm not sure, but I think they're genetically modified miniature trees. In which case, I want a pomegranate tree. Because yum.

You'd need tweezers to get at the seeds
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Devoted135
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« Reply #25 on: March 01, 2011, 04:22:40 PM »

at least one was specifically described as being only two inches tall, to obscure the bearer's missing eye. I don't remember how tall the shoulder ones were supposed to be.

mmm, pomegranate Smiley
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Talia
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« Reply #26 on: March 01, 2011, 04:25:29 PM »

I'm not sure, but I think they're genetically modified miniature trees. In which case, I want a pomegranate tree. Because yum.

You'd need tweezers to get at the seeds

I figure you'd just crush it to extract the juice. A whole tree's harvest might give you an ounce or two, but hey. Tongue

(Maybe a yuzu tree instead).

Quote
at least one was specifically described as being only two inches tall, to obscure the bearer's missing eye. I don't remember how tall the shoulder ones were supposed to be.

mmm, pomegranate

I'm pretty sure some of them were big enough to produce fruit of an edible (if small) size. The leaves have to be big enough for passersby to read the advertisements, after all.

I just like the thought of my own portable fruit tree. Tongue Though I wouldn't like it so much if it had ADIDAS or something written all over it
« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 04:29:35 PM by Talia » Logged
Kanasta
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« Reply #27 on: March 01, 2011, 04:36:00 PM »

I couldn't fathom why anyone would want to protest in favour of a new type of advertising. I mean there are plenty of perfectly reasonable and just causes to inspire you to take to the streets, but tree advertising is not one of them.

My take on this was to imagine a huge Asian metropolis where every available space is taken up by neon and flashing billboards and ads on top of ads, with no room for nature. By putting the ads on trees, they would be able to bring nature back into the city and lessen the amount of intrusive advertising.
That said, I still wasn't convinced by the validity of the idea. If that were the case, everyone in the country would have to be a skin tree to replace the normal ads! Plus, a large part of the argument in the tree ads' favour was that they got a lot more attention. Well, yes, a banana tree growing out of a person is going to catch attention. But once they were everywhere, they would no longer seem so novel and their efficacy would wane...
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« Reply #28 on: March 01, 2011, 08:49:14 PM »

I think I was so caught up in the narration I overlooked many weaknesses! The only weird thing that came through to me was, why the Hell use skin-trees for advertising??? And if you did would it really wipe out paper/neon/etc advertising? I can't see it.

Actually when I think about it, the PoV seemed to be switching from 1st to 3rd person narration which confused me. I lost track of who the MC was. It'd be easier to follow in print, obviously.

But back to the narration which really brought out the naked sensuality of this story. Now, I mean this comment in a positive way: I was walking to and from the train station listening to this story and I almost felt embarrassed to be listening in public! Pamela Quevillon has such a smooth, expressive voice; just wonderful! I could hear her smiling, her enjoyment of the whole piece. I hope you get her to narrate some more.

I enjoyed this very much. Sure, there was some strangeness in the setup but in the end I liked it.

[Edit: added Pamela's name and another "weird thing"]
« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 08:53:53 PM by kibitzer » Logged

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« Reply #29 on: March 01, 2011, 11:47:45 PM »

I'm not sure, but I think they're genetically modified miniature trees. In which case, I want a pomegranate tree. Because yum.

If you eat your own pomegranates, are you a cannibal?
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Lena
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« Reply #30 on: March 02, 2011, 05:30:37 AM »

If you eat your own pomegranates, are you a cannibal?

I think you would only be a cannibal if you hacked off a branch and ate that. Eating your own pomegranates is probably a bit more like chewing nail clippings or eating bogeys.. Not something to do in public, but not as taboo as cannibalism  Grin  Grin
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« Reply #31 on: March 02, 2011, 09:24:08 AM »

On first listen I really enjoyed this story – it had a lyrical flow to it, the main character’s enthusiasm for and love of the skin-trees was infectious, I cared about the protagonist, and the narration was fantastic.  But, unlike most EP stories, the longer I sat with it the less interesting it became.
I think ElectricPaladin nailed what I found dissatisfying about the story.
  • 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.

The more I thought about the history of the world being built here, the less it made sense to me. It really felt like a fantastic idea – I love the idea of skin-trees, an interesting conflict – a search for a cure of an evil corporate caused disease (I’m a sucker for evil corporate villains, even if only in the background), and a very weak backstory.

That being said, it wasn’t until after the story had stopped that I noticed the problems.  So, while I won’t save this story for future listens, I did enjoy listening to it.  I’d say it was 45 minutes well spent, but probably not 90.
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« Reply #32 on: March 02, 2011, 11:18:11 AM »

Actually when I think about it, the PoV seemed to be switching from 1st to 3rd person narration which confused me. I lost track of who the MC was. It'd be easier to follow in print, obviously.

Yup, it switched between 1st and 3rd.  The journal entries describing her sexual encounters were in 1st, the main plot about the search for the cure were in 3rd.  I also had a bit of trouble remembering which character wrote the entries--but that was offset by the fact that the journal entries seemed to have nothing to do with anything else, so it didn't really matter who wrote them.
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« Reply #33 on: March 02, 2011, 11:33:21 AM »

I think the journal entries were a way of illustrating why the skin trees were so important to her. She clearly had a fetish, but that linked into her affection for her partners.
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« Reply #34 on: March 03, 2011, 02:37:38 AM »

Reading through these posts makes me wish I had stuck with the story somewhat, but after fast forwarding through annoying voice guy I got to the story and heard the narrator speak.

I got about two, maybe three minutes, in and had to just move on. It sounded like someone had given the story over to a bad phone sex operator and told her to ham it up. Her voice and inflections were so over the top that I felt embarrassed for her.
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« Reply #35 on: March 03, 2011, 09:13:23 AM »

Is it just me, or did "Pamela Quevillon, narrator" sound remarkably like "Dr. Pamela L. Gay, astronomer"?

Good work, Pamela!
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« Reply #36 on: March 03, 2011, 09:31:18 AM »

I think the journal entries were a way of illustrating why the skin trees were so important to her. She clearly had a fetish, but that linked into her affection for her partners.

If that was the only point then there were too many entries.  The first journal entry made that point very clearly, so the others were just dead weight.
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« Reply #37 on: March 03, 2011, 09:57:28 AM »

I think the journal entries were a way of illustrating why the skin trees were so important to her. She clearly had a fetish, but that linked into her affection for her partners.

If that was the only point then there were too many entries.  The first journal entry made that point very clearly, so the others were just dead weight.


Dead wood?  Tongue
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Talia
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« Reply #38 on: March 03, 2011, 10:00:17 AM »

I think the journal entries were a way of illustrating why the skin trees were so important to her. She clearly had a fetish, but that linked into her affection for her partners.

If that was the only point then there were too many entries.  The first journal entry made that point very clearly, so the others were just dead weight.


I enjoyed them personally, particularly paired with the excellent reading.
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« Reply #39 on: March 03, 2011, 10:11:16 AM »

I think the journal entries were a way of illustrating why the skin trees were so important to her. She clearly had a fetish, but that linked into her affection for her partners.

If that was the only point then there were too many entries.  The first journal entry made that point very clearly, so the others were just dead weight.


I enjoyed them personally, particularly paired with the excellent reading.

Me, too, actually. Much of the rest of the story was kind of messy, but the diary entries were clever and atmospheric.
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« Reply #40 on: March 03, 2011, 03:10:00 PM »

Dead wood?  Tongue

I'm going to banyan you for that.

Seriously we need to institute some sort of rule making puns a pun-ishable offense.
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« Reply #41 on: March 03, 2011, 03:51:11 PM »

I thought the narrator did a wonderful job, especially with the sex parts.

I saw some of the issues with the story that others did -- using this cool technology for advertising, the relative need/lack of need for the explicit sex, dendrophilia -- but for me the only thing that was a dealbreaker was that, unless I completely missed it, we never found out exactly who created the skin-tree plague. They can just make another one, can't they?

Also, the happy ending didn't seem to fit the story. I really expected something a little more downer, and would probably have been more satisfied with one.
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« Reply #42 on: March 03, 2011, 04:00:36 PM »

Dead wood?  Tongue

I'm going to banyan you for that.

Seriously we need to institute some sort of rule making puns a pun-ishable offense.

No fair! You shouldn't cypress good jokes.
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« Reply #43 on: March 03, 2011, 04:23:17 PM »

Dead wood?  Tongue

I'm going to banyan you for that.

Seriously we need to institute some sort of rule making puns a pun-ishable offense.

No fair! You shouldn't cypress good jokes.

Leaf it alone. You're already out on a limb.
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« Reply #44 on: March 03, 2011, 04:27:01 PM »

You birch, you're lucky my bark is worse than my bite.
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« Reply #45 on: March 03, 2011, 04:34:54 PM »

You birch, you're lucky my bark is worse than my bite.

I think you're getting to the root of the problem.
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« Reply #46 on: March 03, 2011, 05:28:41 PM »

You birch, you're lucky my bark is worse than my bite.

I think you're getting to the root of the problem.

Not alder way there yet.
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« Reply #47 on: March 03, 2011, 05:46:51 PM »

My problem with the story (well, in addition to many of the others listed already) was that the protagonist had a durian tree grafted to her, but still managed to find lots of sex partners.  How could they stand the smell?!?   Shocked
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« Reply #48 on: March 03, 2011, 06:10:57 PM »

There were two big things that bothered me about the story. The first, that has been already mentioned by several people, is bad social psychology. I can believe a trend of body modifications that involves trees being grafted to human bodies. But I can't believe that the driving force behind it is a universal rejection of advertisements. Not only for reasons like the fact that never in the history of mankind did one form of advertising replace another, but rather they just add up incrementally. And no democratic government would outlaw an existing business model - putting thousands of advertising agents, printers, graphic designers, etc. out of work - because a vocal minority thinks they have a better solution. But there's a far simpler reason - people like advertising. Not all the people, and not all the time, but advertising is designed to appeal to people, and in aggragate, it is succeeds.

The second reason is - bad botany. Occicat mentioned the smell of Durian trees, a detail that the story conveniently forgets. But the story starts with bananas - bananas don't grow on trees. They grow on tree-sized herbs. There are some crucial distinctions - one of them is that each banana "tree" only flowers once and only produces one set of fruit. After that, it will start producing shoots that will grow into other banana "trees", and the main stem eventually dies. If it's smaller, it will go through it's life cycle quicker.

For a story about people and plants, it is a rather big problem that neither people nor plants acted in a way that seemed vaguely realistic to me. That left the third main theme in the story, sex. Which, unlike people and plants, the story seemed to understand quite well. But I personally have a pretty negative reaction to body modification - I find it extremely unsexy. And one theme in SF/horror I find really terrifying human-plant hybrids (the 1970s Invasion of the Body Snatchers scarred me for life when I was very young). So I found the sex scenes disturbing rather than erotic or appealing.

Overall, then, not a story I enjoyed, at all.



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« Reply #49 on: March 03, 2011, 08:08:52 PM »

I...but...WHY?  Why use trees as advertising?  Because people stare at you?  That would work until, like any other ad, it became so prevalent that it became useless like everything else.  How could the rewards in any way offset the costs of performing these surgeries?  It just makes no logical sense to me.   In addition to this, the story was sloppy, the narration a bit hammy in spots, and the first to third jump was jarring and confusing.  I stuck through to the end, but with no real tension and an obvious ending, I'm not happy I did. 
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« Reply #50 on: March 03, 2011, 08:27:13 PM »

I feel like the idea of a body-mod subculture based around miniature trees came first, and then someone - maybe a beta-reader, maybe the author - asked, "But why would everyone want these?"  The answer being "advertising" turned an interesting idea into a "Wait, what?" moment for me.  Like others, I was bemused by the idea of people protesting in favor of their weird advertising method.  I'm trying to imagine a protest in favor of higher quality cloth for Nike shirts or something, and it's just not gelling in my head.

I think it would have been a stronger story if the skin-trees had just been a thing, like extreme piercing or tattoos are now, that a particular subculture embraced completely without a clear reason why.  I would have believed an eco-youth subculture getting really into skin-trees and eventually migrating over to the other body-mod subcultures out there; I didn't need some kind of money-based reason for them to exist.
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« Reply #51 on: March 03, 2011, 09:26:16 PM »

My problem with the story (well, in addition to many of the others listed already) was that the protagonist had a durian tree grafted to her, but still managed to find lots of sex partners.  How could they stand the smell?!?   Shocked

I'd thought about that myself, then reasoned they genetically modified it to remove the odor, or change it to be appealing.
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« Reply #52 on: March 03, 2011, 09:28:53 PM »

My problem with the story (well, in addition to many of the others listed already) was that the protagonist had a durian tree grafted to her, but still managed to find lots of sex partners.  How could they stand the smell?!?   Shocked

I'd thought about that myself, then reasoned they genetically modified it to remove the odor, or change it to be appealing.

In a game of Hunter: The Vigil, my wife once attempted to use a couple of durian fruit to force an evacuation of a suburb so her team could assault a suspected group of vampire house-sitters.  Trufax.  Everyone else thought she was crazy because they had never encountered a rotting durian before.
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« Reply #53 on: March 04, 2011, 10:08:21 AM »

The second reason is - bad botany. Occicat mentioned the smell of Durian trees, a detail that the story conveniently forgets. But the story starts with bananas - bananas don't grow on trees. They grow on tree-sized herbs. There are some crucial distinctions - one of them is that each banana "tree" only flowers once and only produces one set of fruit. After that, it will start producing shoots that will grow into other banana "trees", and the main stem eventually dies. If it's smaller, it will go through it's life cycle quicker.

I've never been near a Durian tree, and I don't know anything about where bananas come from, but this seems less problematic than other aspects of the story.  These are clearly not the same trees that grow in the wild, since they're able to root in human flesh and show advertisements on themselves, as well as bearing miniature fruit.  The story mentioned that the pointy bits of the Durian were designed to be more rounded to reduce the chance of injury.  I don't see why the trees couldn't be altered in other ways, like removing Durian stinkiness and making bananas bear fruit in a different way.  They're not the Durian trees or banana herbs that today's botanists know.
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« Reply #54 on: March 04, 2011, 04:25:30 PM »

Full disclosure: I am biased in favor of the tiny trees. In case you missed my avatar and my username, you should also know that I have a giant tattoo of a tree on my back. I would personally never get a facial piercing or have a tattoo anywhere it couldn’t be easily covered up, but if it was possible to have a bonsai tree grafted onto my body, I’d probably do it. Therefore, take my comments as you will.

Some have said the story didn’t have enough conflict for them - “The trees would have died. So what?” - but it was enough for me. As someone who loves trees (though, admittedly, not as much as the main character loves them – I mean, good lord!), I really thought the disease was going to win and all the trees were going to die. That made me genuinely sad. I was pleased with the happy ending and the renewal / regrowth implied by the orchid.

However, I couldn’t get behind the advertising angle. It didn’t fit with the nature of this story at all. (See what I did there?) To me, love of nature involves voluntary simplicity and the minimalist mindset and is usually in direct opposition to all the things advertising represents. When Saruman said “The old world will burn in the fires of industry,” he was being a villain: we’re not meant to emulate him. Also, he was later stomped by a bunch of angry trees. Karma’s a b#$%h.

You all had me worried this story was going to be embarrassingly graphic (I saw the thread about lesbians before I had time to hear the story), so I was surprised at how tame it was. Other than the bit with the dildo, I didn’t hear anything that made me blush. As Talia said, the skin-trees were a fetish for the main character and (to me, anyway) that overshadowed the lesbian elements considerably. The character was so focused on the trees, it was almost as if there wasn’t another woman involved. The sex scenes emphasized that the trees were beautiful and sensual, literally body art, and their loss would be lamented.
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« Reply #55 on: March 04, 2011, 04:28:47 PM »

You birch, you're lucky my bark is worse than my bite.

I think you're getting to the root of the problem.

Not alder way there yet.

Take it too far and you'll rowan in.
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« Reply #56 on: March 04, 2011, 04:30:46 PM »

You birch, you're lucky my bark is worse than my bite.

I think you're getting to the root of the problem.

Not alder way there yet.

Take it too far and you'll rowan in.
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« Reply #57 on: March 04, 2011, 07:15:05 PM »

My problem with the story (well, in addition to many of the others listed already) was that the protagonist had a durian tree grafted to her, but still managed to find lots of sex partners.  How could they stand the smell?!?   Shocked

I'd thought about that myself, then reasoned they genetically modified it to remove the odor, or change it to be appealing.


I'm with you there... but much in the same way that some people use piercings and/or tattoos in ways that are more "yeah, you forgot to NOT do that" than "hey, that's a nice earring/tattoo", perhaps the MC chose a stinky tree just to be That Person.
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« Reply #58 on: March 05, 2011, 03:36:00 PM »

Boring.  This was clearly a mood piece, but I sure didn't find the mood interesting at all.  And like many other have said the skin-trees replacing advertising on signs and billboards is a ridiculious notion.  I could see some srange body art augmenting other advertising, but never replacing.

I did wonder though if that was really the world.  Kim Cuc was definately a zealot about the skin trees and anti-advertising and quite possibly crazy or drugged or mentally deficient.  I began to suspect that she's an unreliable narrator.  There was no confirmation of that by the end, but the what we saw of the world didn't feel like it made sense. 
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« Reply #59 on: March 07, 2011, 12:46:53 PM »

Gorgeous prose, good reading, but that was about it.  The skin tree mods were an interesting idea, but they don't really make sense for advertising, nor did their disease/cure.  I couldn't bring myself to care about the characters, and the lesbianism seemed to be all fluff.
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« Reply #60 on: March 07, 2011, 03:20:07 PM »

In the spirit of the recent call on a sister Escape Artist podcast for readers of different cultural backgrounds, let me offer my help here. I found listening to this story disorienting because of the really bad mispronunciation of local Thai place names. It was not until near the end of the story that I realized the setting was Chiang Mai in Thailand. I'd thought it was an imaginary city named Shung Mei, presumably in China.

We can't reasonably expect all readers to know how to pronounce these 'exotic' place names, so let me offer my help. I speak Thai, Lao, Northern Thai, and Vietnamese, and even know some Khmer (I know other languages, too, but these are the relevant ones here). I don't have the equipment to volunteer to record stories - as much fun as I think that would be! - but if you have any future stories set in SE Asia, I'd be more than willing to help readers with pronunciation.  You can reach me at kagillogly AT gmail.com.

I really mean this. I'd be more than happy to help out.
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« Reply #61 on: March 07, 2011, 03:54:10 PM »

We can't reasonably expect all readers to know how to pronounce these 'exotic' place names, so let me offer my help. I speak Thai, Lao, Northern Thai, and Vietnamese, and even know some Khmer (I know other languages, too, but these are the relevant ones here). I don't have the equipment to volunteer to record stories - as much fun as I think that would be! - but if you have any future stories set in SE Asia, I'd be more than willing to help readers with pronunciation.  You can reach me at kagillogly AT gmail.com.

I am totally going to try to remember this.  Thanks to a year-long course I took many years ago, I can pronounce Japanese reasonably well (though only if it's written in a Latin alphabet - I have long since lost my never-better-than-meagre ability to read kana or kanji), but have no experience with any other East Asian languages.

Thank you!
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« Reply #62 on: March 07, 2011, 08:47:39 PM »

I don't have the equipment to volunteer to record stories - as much fun as I think that would be!

You need surprisingly little to get started...

I agree with Wilson -- pronunciation is notoriously difficult to get right so your offer is a generous one. Many thanks!

(I recently had to do a line of Latin and after listening to it sung(!) for maybe 10 minutes, I still think I fluffed it.)
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« Reply #63 on: March 08, 2011, 07:44:55 AM »

Man, I'm glad to learn I'm not the only one who thought this was crap. I seriously thought I had missed something, because the only thing I got was thirty minutes of moaning narration from the diary of a hypersexual Vietnamese lesbian with a body mod fetish. The only thing redeeming about it that I can find is that at least Kim never said "Me so horny." Wasn't there supposed to be a story in there somewhere?
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« Reply #64 on: March 08, 2011, 08:18:18 AM »

Raenestro - word of warning here - your opinion is welcome, but your post crosses the line of what is acceptable in an episode commentary. Negative feedback is fine (as you can see in many other examples in this thread), calling stories "crap" is not. I hope you come back and comment on more stories in the future, but please see the one rule for guidelines on what is allowed and what not in a post.
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« Reply #65 on: March 08, 2011, 08:41:55 AM »

Raenestro - word of warning here - your opinion is welcome, but your post crosses the line of what is acceptable in an episode commentary. Negative feedback is fine (as you can see in many other examples in this thread), calling stories "crap" is not. I hope you come back and comment on more stories in the future, but please see the one rule for guidelines on what is allowed and what not in a post.

Noted, and I do apologize for the transgression. My intent was to be blunt, since much of what I had to say has already been said, but not actually offensive. 
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« Reply #66 on: March 17, 2011, 10:23:36 PM »

I'm another who didn't care for the story. I think this is only the second time I've ever left feedback, that's how much I didn't care for the story.

First, I had some problems with the whole idea of the story. You want a tree growing out of your shoulder? OK! Not anything I would ever sign up for, but I can buy the idea. But... You want a tree growing out of your shoulder so that you can be walking advertising so that advertising will magically disappear from other places? Not so much. I'm not sure how that even works... radio ads weren't replaced by tv ads, and internet ads haven't replaced newspaper ads, but somehow we're meant to believe that some people getting skin trees will replace all advertising?

Also, heeeyyyyyyyy gratuitous sex scenes! Whoa. I'll be the first to admit that I'm kind of a prude, so I'm not really a fan of any kind of sexy-time scene. I know that's just my personal taste. But usually, I can ignore the awkwardness and get the idea of how it's progressing the story or developing a character or what have you. In this story, it didn't do either of these things. It was a complete derailment of the story to talk about the narrator's fetish. Yes, we get it, she likes trees. A lot. Do we really need to "see" every detail of her sex life? It doesn't really have anything to do with the story, except perhaps to explain why she was getting so upset about the possibility of the trees being gone.

In the end, I guess we were supposed to be interested in saving the little trees because a) they magically hand-waved all advertising away, and/or b) they were someone's fetish? Neither reason really works for me.

The really disappointing part is my own fault, though. I was listening to this at work, and at the beginning there was noise in my office that half-distracted me, so at first I thought that the story was being written about humans from the perspective of a plant. The humans were the skin trees, because to a plant we might look like trees covered in skin, and the plant was totally in love with the human race. I thought this was a totally awesome idea, and then when I figured out what was really going on, I was completely let down. But this let-down was not the fault of the story, just me  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #67 on: March 17, 2011, 10:29:26 PM »


In the end, I guess we were supposed to be interested in saving the little trees because a) they magically hand-waved all advertising away,


Actually just the opposite, the trees WERE advertisements, they had them printed on their leaves. The interest was that the hip new fad was to have cool little trees growing on you. Ones that even bear fruit. Smiley
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« Reply #68 on: March 17, 2011, 10:34:44 PM »


In the end, I guess we were supposed to be interested in saving the little trees because a) they magically hand-waved all advertising away,


Actually just the opposite, the trees WERE advertisements, they had them printed on their leaves. The interest was that the hip new fad was to have cool little trees growing on you. Ones that even bear fruit. Smiley

He's correct that one of the claims made in the story was that skin-trees were valuable because they would somehow replace regular advertising with tree-based advertising and thus save the aesthetics of the world or something.  This doesn't make a lot of sense, which is why most of the reactions here were, I think, confusion about what purpose the trees were supposed to serve.
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« Reply #69 on: March 17, 2011, 10:49:34 PM »


In the end, I guess we were supposed to be interested in saving the little trees because a) they magically hand-waved all advertising away,


Actually just the opposite, the trees WERE advertisements, they had them printed on their leaves. The interest was that the hip new fad was to have cool little trees growing on you. Ones that even bear fruit. Smiley

He's correct that one of the claims made in the story was that skin-trees were valuable because they would somehow replace regular advertising with tree-based advertising and thus save the aesthetics of the world or something.  This doesn't make a lot of sense, which is why most of the reactions here were, I think, confusion about what purpose the trees were supposed to serve.

Fair nuff, I missed that I guess. Smiley
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« Reply #70 on: March 18, 2011, 06:35:55 AM »

Hated this story.  It's same sort of hate you get for cats that crap on your daffodils, every darned day.

A few minutes of interest, only a couple, until I get what a skin tree is, then.. nothing... does nothing, goes no where.  Didn't expand my horizons, engage my interest or do anything for me.
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« Reply #71 on: March 18, 2011, 08:15:00 AM »

at first I thought that the story was being written about humans from the perspective of a plant. The humans were the skin trees, because to a plant we might look like trees covered in skin, and the plant was totally in love with the human race. I thought this was a totally awesome idea, and then when I figured out what was really going on, I was completely let down. But this let-down was not the fault of the story, just me  Roll Eyes
You're right. That is an awesome idea. Someone needs to write this.
/nudges Scattercat
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« Reply #72 on: March 18, 2011, 08:22:20 AM »

I think this is only the second time I've ever left feedback, that's how much I didn't care for the story.

You could always stop by for stories you don't dislike, also.    Smiley 
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« Reply #73 on: March 18, 2011, 03:14:12 PM »

at first I thought that the story was being written about humans from the perspective of a plant. The humans were the skin trees, because to a plant we might look like trees covered in skin, and the plant was totally in love with the human race. I thought this was a totally awesome idea, and then when I figured out what was really going on, I was completely let down. But this let-down was not the fault of the story, just me  Roll Eyes
You're right. That is an awesome idea. Someone needs to write this.
/nudges Scattercat

Well, I have done a bit of a recurring motif of a hypothetical world of talking, mobile trees that become dangerous businessmen and monopolize the financial industry.  I don't think anyone's ever called anyone else a skin-tree, though.
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« Reply #74 on: March 21, 2011, 02:33:12 PM »

Well, I have done a bit of a recurring motif of a hypothetical world of talking, mobile trees that become dangerous businessmen and monopolize the financial industry.  I don't think anyone's ever called anyone else a skin-tree, though.

More off topic, but I picture the trees in your stories like the Arbors from Chowder:
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« Reply #75 on: March 25, 2011, 01:48:20 PM »

I generally don't comment on stories I don't like, usually because I can't be bothered and most of the problems have already been pointed out by others.

But for this story, I just have to stand up and say how dumb I thought this story was. I mean, trees!...on people! Really? And for advertising? I just couldn't get past that.
Then there was the really badly written sex scenes. They weren't even self-consistent. Here you have a flowery description of lovey-dovey intertwining, and out or nowhere, there's a dildo thrown in. Even in the context of a sex scene, especially for that particular sex scene, it was just jarring and sounded tacked on.
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« Reply #76 on: March 28, 2011, 06:28:12 PM »

OK, so I will have to balance this a bit. This was not a story, it was a poem, focusing on sensuality and imagery. And as such, it totally worked for me. The sex scenes sometimes made me go 'really, you're gonna go there?' but that balancing on the edge of softcore really worked in the storys poems favor in the end. The idea to link this to advertizing is, as have been mentioned too many times already, a bit too absurd, but also kind of touchingly optimistic. The world felt really sketched out though and didn't make much sense. Also, the whole virus thing felt very detached and unimportant in comparison to discovering that green, lush, sensual subculture. But that just goes to show, poems should not really have plot.
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« Reply #77 on: April 03, 2011, 10:36:45 AM »

I didn't feel any sympathy for the skin-trees. And I didn't feel much for the principal character either.

The ever changing sexual partners were hard to keep track of, and as such, I found it hard not to keep thinking of the ads for Marks and Spencer's food hall whilst listening to the narration.

Ultimately, I was left with the same feeling I get when I'm hearing a story, or watching a movie, that has a geeky guy scoring a super foxy girlfriend. Basically that the author is indulging in wish fulfillment rather than exploring a storyline.
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #78 on: May 05, 2011, 11:23:57 AM »

From Off The Mark, a favourite cartoon of mine for almost two decades:



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« Reply #79 on: May 09, 2011, 11:02:54 AM »

Okay...time for me to chime my two cents in. But first, some facts.

This story was published in Daybreak Magazine following my story "She's All Light" went up, so I got to read it when it first came out. At the beginning of this year, Jetse Devries posted the reader traffic for all the stories posted in 2010. Notebook of my Favourite Skins-Trees got a whopping 7331 hits, which is huge compared to my story which came in 2nd place with only 1962 hits. So people definitely read it more.

As for me, I found it to be a lush, beautifully written story, especially during the sex parts, which made this Christian girl realize that she has to stop calling herself conservative because it just ain't true anymore.  Maybe it's because I also find fruit sexy, and maybe it's also part nostalgia of me remember when my husband took me to the Philippines and I got to eat lychee, rambutan and durian for the first time (and as for the durian smell, I can see the protagonist being turned on to it as a fetish. I mean, some people like stinky feet so ::shrug:Smiley. But as for the whole advertisement thing, yeah, have to agree with everyone else, I couldn't see it as viable. I mean, it works until everyone starts wanting a tree growing out of themselves, and then it gets too mundane. It becomes a passe fad.

But the lesbian sex. Didn't faze me one bit. Congratulations Escape Pod. You have lowered my inhibitions bit by bit without even noticing. I'm sure my husband will thank you lots.  Grin
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« Reply #80 on: May 20, 2011, 06:17:06 PM »

OK, so I will have to balance this a bit. This was not a story, it was a poem, focusing on sensuality and imagery. And as such, it totally worked for me. The sex scenes sometimes made me go 'really, you're gonna go there?' but that balancing on the edge of softcore really worked in the storys poems favor in the end. The idea to link this to advertizing is, as have been mentioned too many times already, a bit too absurd, but also kind of touchingly optimistic. The world felt really sketched out though and didn't make much sense. Also, the whole virus thing felt very detached and unimportant in comparison to discovering that green, lush, sensual subculture. But that just goes to show, poems should not really have plot.

This is very much in line with my own thoughts about this one.  Unlike many others here, I didn't see the virus plot as being the focus of the piece.  I felt that it was more of an exploration of the main character and her thoughts and motivations, with the journal entries being the important part.  The disease/cure elements felt more like a background thread, existing only to provide a bridge between the journal entries.

I agree completely with what others have said about the whole advertising angle, it just didn't work at all.  It seemed, as someone suggested earlier, as though the author felt some need to rationalize why people would get these things grafted onto them aside from wanting body art.  The whole piece would have been better, in my opinion, without any talk of advertising.

Is it just me, or did "Pamela Quevillon, narrator" sound remarkably like "Dr. Pamela L. Gay, astronomer"?

Good work, Pamela!

I'll never be able to listen to Astronomy Cast the same way...
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #81 on: July 14, 2011, 01:40:10 AM »

Hey so while I was in Berlin, I saw this guy.  Totally reminded me of this story
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/1OhOYtekCJuDAa-77lFobQ?feat=directlink
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/kHpJPoomkwjaWR9WQPNaGQ?feat=directlink
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/-OoeywsXPcynt9gRUFGuIg?feat=directlink
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/sY-_DUu4SXWe24WBagH57w?feat=directlink
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/K7hqj0iyqyEoFwgApRDrqQ?feat=directlink
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/DaJOs86-VNmqGzMFFfzurQ?feat=directlink
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/aD3rD5VkjfUV6cHrtM5V1A?feat=directlink

Smiley
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« Reply #82 on: February 07, 2012, 06:26:09 PM »

I didn't really care for this story, but I do have to give it props for being full of dirty hippies without being strictly anti-corporate. Also, I need to take the folks to task who are calling this an anti-corporate story. Advertising is quite corporate, and it would take big corporate funding to genetically modify plants to advertise for products. So the underlying message is corporations are cool if they do stuff you like. And the opt-in advertising style is very libertarian. The story was very anti-establishment-print-advertising, but that's pretty narrow. So this was a neat concept, but I think it would have been significantly better as a flash piece.

There were two big things that bothered me about the story. The first, that has been already mentioned by several people, is bad social psychology. I can believe a trend of body modifications that involves trees being grafted to human bodies. But I can't believe that the driving force behind it is a universal rejection of advertisements. Not only for reasons like the fact that never in the history of mankind did one form of advertising replace another, but rather they just add up incrementally. And no democratic government would outlaw an existing business model - putting thousands of advertising agents, printers, graphic designers, etc. out of work - because a vocal minority thinks they have a better solution. But there's a far simpler reason - people like advertising. Not all the people, and not all the time, but advertising is designed to appeal to people, and in aggragate, it is succeeds.

Rather than a universal societal rejection of traditional advertising, I took it as more a case of a deluded True Believer who over-perceived the trees having a larger impact than they do. The line where she claimed that "everyone hates advertising" is where I dismissed her character, yet found her believable. I've interacted with far too many True Believers in fringe causes who believe that their passion for a thing translates to everyone's passion for the same thing. Probably because they cause uncomfortable silence and acquiescence in the people the preach to ("If I nod and smile maybe this crazy lady with a tree growing out of her shoulder and smelling of a combination of patchouli and rot - maybe she will leave")

The second reason is - bad botany. Occicat mentioned the smell of Durian trees, a detail that the story conveniently forgets. But the story starts with bananas - bananas don't grow on trees. They grow on tree-sized herbs. There are some crucial distinctions - one of them is that each banana "tree" only flowers once and only produces one set of fruit. After that, it will start producing shoots that will grow into other banana "trees", and the main stem eventually dies. If it's smaller, it will go through it's life cycle quicker.

I'm also not willing to handwave the durian's horribleness with relation to this story. She talked about modifications to other fruits, but not to the elephant in the room. If all mods were omitted then it would be an omission. Since mods were explicitly included, then it is an error in either execution or research.

For a story about people and plants, it is a rather big problem that neither people nor plants acted in a way that seemed vaguely realistic to me. That left the third main theme in the story, sex. Which, unlike people and plants, the story seemed to understand quite well. But I personally have a pretty negative reaction to body modification - I find it extremely unsexy. And one theme in SF/horror I find really terrifying human-plant hybrids (the 1970s Invasion of the Body Snatchers scarred me for life when I was very young). So I found the sex scenes disturbing rather than erotic or appealing.

I thought the story could have benefited from focusing more on the sensual and less on the prurient. The dildo just felt strapped onto the rest of the story.
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« Reply #83 on: February 08, 2012, 08:42:45 AM »

I thought the story could have benefited from focusing more on the sensual and less on the prurient. The dildo just felt strapped onto the rest of the story.

I see what you did there.  Wink
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« Reply #84 on: February 08, 2012, 09:28:43 AM »

I thought the story could have benefited from focusing more on the sensual and less on the prurient. The dildo just felt strapped onto the rest of the story.

I see what you did there.  Wink

Yeah, it kind of stood out.
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