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Author Topic: EP284/EP634: On a Clear Day You Can See All the Way to Conspiracy  (Read 30921 times)

Scattercat

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Reply #25 on: March 21, 2011, 05:04:46 AM
{As an aside, I feel this sort of trope is more a hallmark of Fantasy than Science Fiction.  In Fantasy the action is generally limited, and it ends.  You have three wishes, you use them and you use them up.  You find the One Ring, you destroy it.  The worlds goes on, all the more ordinary.  Whereas in Science Fiction, as in the real world, things go _on_, and change and develop - you invent a car, and a few years later everyone has them, you start working out how to connect computers, and a few years later people are watching news updates on their phones as they ride the bus.  In SF the Genie *never* goes back into the bottle.}

because nothing world changing ever happens in epic fantasy...

The point, and I think it's a valid one, is that fantasy often ends with "And then the world was different forever," but it's relatively rare to see a fantasy story that writes a sequel in which the consequences of the dramatic change in the original epic are explored in depth.  Conversely, a lot of SF stories *start* with the idea that in the past, some great change or upheaval occurred, and they work largely on exploring the ramifications of that change as their main storyline.  It's certainly something I can see reflected in the literature around me, and also something I see subverted on a regular basis.  (The Bitterwood trilogy, as the most recent example I've read, or Terry Pratchett's growing and changing Discworld milieu in which the clacks and the free press and so on have actual effects on the rest of the world in subsequent books.)  As to the source of the difference, well, I hesitate to speculate without a lot more thorough research, but the description of the trend does strike a bit of a chord.

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iamafish

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Reply #26 on: March 21, 2011, 07:05:23 AM
True, but the idea that 'the world goes on' is false. Sure, the consequences are not explored as they are in Sci Fi, but the status Quo isn't exactly restored most of the time either. LotR isn't just a case of 'The Ring is destroyed, everything is the same as it was before the ring was made', the creation of The Ring and the quest to destroy it have irreversibly changed the world. Sure, we don't see those changes fully realised, but that's because the point is the event itself, not the far reaching consequences.

then again, what is LotR if not a sequel to the Hobbit that builds on the changes that occur in The Hobbit (even relatively minor ones, like Bilbo getting The Ring).


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Reply #27 on: March 21, 2011, 07:36:12 AM
LotR doesn't explore what happens to the town after the dwarves reopen the mines.  That would be an example of what we're talking about here.  If, say, there was an increase in lung sickness in the nearby town, and tensions between Men and Dwarfs increased due to the sudden change in living circumstances, then you could say that LotR was an exploratory sequel in the manner that SF tends toward.  There's a bit of it in the opening bits of LotR, where we see how Bilbo was altered by his adventures and no longer fit into his comfortable home in the Shire, but given that the One Ring wasn't even solidified as existing when the Hobbit was written, it's hard to say that LotR is anything other than a sequel with some of the same characters in the same world rather than a sequel exploring the impact of previous upheaval events.

Again, the issue is not "The world doesn't change in Fantasy," but rather, "Fantasy stories tend to stop after the climactic upheaval sets the world to rights.  SF tends to explore the ramifications of an upheaval and argue with itself about whether the world has been set right or ruined."

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iamafish

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Reply #28 on: March 21, 2011, 09:02:38 AM
I agree. My example was just me playing devil's advocate - ultimately LotR does look at the consequences of Bilbo getting the ring, even if ignores the rest of the book completely!

I'm not sure whether the OP was saying that fantasy just restores the status quo, or whether he was saying it just doesn't explore the consequences. I hope it's the latter, but it sounded awfully like the former!


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Reply #29 on: March 21, 2011, 01:53:06 PM
This story was lots of fun.  Sure, there were plot holes (namely, why are these superpowerful aliens bothering to call into radio shows).  Sure, the ending wasn't spectacular.  But it was all very fun how it played out and I thought it was voiced well.  I think it might've worked better as a cast recording with maybe 3 more people using different voices for the call-ins, but this wasn't bad either.

My absolute favorite moment was early in the 2nd alien's call, paraphrased:
Alien2:  The previous caller is a liar.  Don't believe a word he says.
Host:  Yeah, no kidding.  I was playing along for the fun of it.
Alien2:  Really, this is very important.  He's one of the most wanted criminals in the galaxy.

On "galaxy" I just cracked up laughing.  Up until that word it seemed like he was going to be the one of the comedy duo who plays it straight, but that flipped everything around.  :)



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Reply #30 on: March 21, 2011, 03:11:57 PM
It took a little while, but by the time we got to the traffic report I was totally sucked into this one. Maybe it helps that the only actual radio I listen to is the local station (which has low-key, non-abrasive "personalities") and podcasts of Science Friday/Wait Wait/This American Life. Oh, and some British radio (The Naked Scientists and related podcasts, seriously check it out if you're into following current science news :)).  So for me the narration style felt quite natural and as soon as I learned to not anticipate different voices for the callers it wasn't jarring that they weren't there.


I think it's interesting that this story is raising many of the same types of criticism that On a Blade of Grass did. For my part, I thought it was a nice change of pace, and I enjoy having these "thought experiments" sprinkled through the other types of SF. :) I'm going to run with the theory that if you listen to the recording that by the time you get to the third alien caller then the mind-wiping is already in progress so that your memory of the details will already be too fuzzy if you turn it off as soon as you realize that you should. :D



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Reply #31 on: March 21, 2011, 04:23:18 PM
I think it's interesting that this story is raising many of the same types of criticism that On a Blade of Grass did. For my part, I thought it was a nice change of pace, and I enjoy having these "thought experiments" sprinkled through the other types of SF. :) I'm going to run with the theory that if you listen to the recording that by the time you get to the third alien caller then the mind-wiping is already in progress so that your memory of the details will already be too fuzzy if you turn it off as soon as you realize that you should. :D

The real question is:  Why do we still remember the episode at all?  Shouldn't we all be posting to say that we meant to listen but don't seem to remember anything?  Maybe the mind-wiping sound didn't translate well into mp3 format.  I would never have suspected that lossy compression would be the salvation of humanity.  For the sake of safety in the upcoming interstellar war, I think someone needs to mass-produce mp3 listening filters.  You wear heavy noise-blocking headphones and a microphone pinned to your chest--the microphone records all sounds and compresses them into mp3 before playing them back for you, thus filtering out the mind-wipe inducing sounds while still allowing you to hear most everything else. 
« Last Edit: March 21, 2011, 04:25:28 PM by Unblinking »



acpracht

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Reply #32 on: March 21, 2011, 05:05:07 PM
I think it's interesting that this story is raising many of the same types of criticism that On a Blade of Grass did. For my part, I thought it was a nice change of pace, and I enjoy having these "thought experiments" sprinkled through the other types of SF. :) I'm going to run with the theory that if you listen to the recording that by the time you get to the third alien caller then the mind-wiping is already in progress so that your memory of the details will already be too fuzzy if you turn it off as soon as you realize that you should. :D

The real question is:  Why do we still remember the episode at all?  Shouldn't we all be posting to say that we meant to listen but don't seem to remember anything?  Maybe the mind-wiping sound didn't translate well into mp3 format.  I would never have suspected that lossy compression would be the salvation of humanity.  For the sake of safety in the upcoming interstellar war, I think someone needs to mass-produce mp3 listening filters.  You wear heavy noise-blocking headphones and a microphone pinned to your chest--the microphone records all sounds and compresses them into mp3 before playing them back for you, thus filtering out the mind-wipe inducing sounds while still allowing you to hear most everything else. 

Hi-larious… I love the idea of superior alien technology being thwarted by sub-standard human. :) Of course, if it works over AM Radio, it will surely work over mp3 (but who knows…)
I would (jokingly) argue that we still remember it because we didn't listen to the actual broadcast – we were listening to a dramatization of the original broadcast. To paraphrase Tenacious D: "This is not the alien broadcast. No, this is just a tribute!"



Devoted135

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Reply #33 on: March 21, 2011, 06:04:37 PM
I think it's interesting that this story is raising many of the same types of criticism that On a Blade of Grass did. For my part, I thought it was a nice change of pace, and I enjoy having these "thought experiments" sprinkled through the other types of SF. :) I'm going to run with the theory that if you listen to the recording that by the time you get to the third alien caller then the mind-wiping is already in progress so that your memory of the details will already be too fuzzy if you turn it off as soon as you realize that you should. :D

The real question is:  Why do we still remember the episode at all?  Shouldn't we all be posting to say that we meant to listen but don't seem to remember anything?  Maybe the mind-wiping sound didn't translate well into mp3 format.  I would never have suspected that lossy compression would be the salvation of humanity.  For the sake of safety in the upcoming interstellar war, I think someone needs to mass-produce mp3 listening filters.  You wear heavy noise-blocking headphones and a microphone pinned to your chest--the microphone records all sounds and compresses them into mp3 before playing them back for you, thus filtering out the mind-wipe inducing sounds while still allowing you to hear most everything else.  


haha, that is awesome! maybe that is the true purpose of those aluminum hats the conspiracy theorists wear? Now if you'll excuse me, I just remembered a few things I need from the grocery store...



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Reply #34 on: March 22, 2011, 07:12:28 PM
I really enjoyed this episode, and thought that Josh did a great job with the host/caller switch, even if there were one or two missed switches.  Given the short turnaround time, it is completely understandable.  And I agree with him that his voice is more public radio than AM talk show, though it did not take much away from the story for me.  I wish I had decent recording equipment, then I could say that any time you need an obnoxious talk show host, look me up, as I was one for 3 years.(college)

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Reply #35 on: March 22, 2011, 08:14:04 PM
I enjoyed this episode a lot, and I think the narrator did a great job with all the different voices, though, as others said, I felt the radio host persona was a bit low-key. But that was a minor criticism. I also don't think airforce people would be stupid enough to call on-air; they must know that doing so would make panic worse rather than better. But this wasn't a story designed for deep analysis, so I'm not going to fret too much about that.



dwarzel

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Reply #36 on: March 22, 2011, 10:25:17 PM
Author chiming in now, if that's not too much of a faux pas.

Thanks very much for the comments, both positive and otherwise.  This tale appeared at SFReader.com in 2009, and I appreciate the opportunity to place it before a fresh audience.  The story stands or falls on its own, of course, but might I spend a few minutes addressing some of the issues that have been raised?

A lot of people have been commenting on the narration.  I think I can say, without causing offense to the gentleman, that his was not the voice I had in my head as I was writing, but that's certainly no crime.  As for the delivery; well, I was thinking along the lines of a faster, more belligerent tone, instead of the more measured pace that we got, but that's just me, and you wouldn't want it sped up to the point of unintelligibility.  What he lacked in belligerence, he made up in sarcasm; the sneers that came though on some of those lines were deliciously obnoxious.  The telephone effects were brilliant; I assumed there would be a single peformer, and had honestly wondered how they were going to pull off all those conversations without being confusing.  Kudos.

Except for one thing: there is no /t/ sound in my last name.  I made a point of telling (to my recollection) two different people at Escape Pod that there's no /t/ sound, and sure enough, there it was.  Ms. Lafferty got it right; even the synthesizer voice got it right.  I made a point of mentioning it because people always put it there spontaneously; I'm not sure why.  Perhaps my name contains a /t/ sound in the original German.  I am not German.  Some of my ancestors were German; that's their affair, not mine.  It's a petty point, but it's my only complaint, so there.

This really did sound like a radio show, although -- and maybe this is a Cleveland thing -- issues and sports don't usually coexist regularly on the same show. I would expect this Colavito guy to maybe be a morning host on a sports station, rather than an afternoon guy on a "straight talk" station. Also, and this is a REAL nitpick, there are very few local non-sports personalities on during middays -- it's all Boortz, Rush, Clark, Hannity.

You're very likely right; Cleveland is the only major city I've ever lived in, and I used it as my model.  In Cleveland, the number one show in the afternoon is a local AM show that touches on all topics indiscriminately, including sports and politics.  In fact, I was wondering if anyone from NE Ohio would weigh in and call me on it, but not so far.  Clevelanders: an Escape Artists, Inc. "No-Prize" to the first person to tell me whose radio style I ripped off emulated for the character of Mike Colavito.

The ending, however, creates a bit of a problem. Yes the "sound" may erase memory but what about electronic memory? In this modern age of computers and terabyte hard drives, most radio shows are taped in case the station has to defend themselves from the FCC; for their fans as well so that they can listen on their MP3 players. All it'll take is someone plugging in to their RSS feed one morning and suddenly the secret's out.

Some others already anticipated my answer to this, which is: any recording would also have the memory-erasing sound.  I honestly believe that anyone listening to this for the first time couldn't resist listening to the entire thing and thereby hearing the sound; and, thanks to that sound, every time one listens to it is the first time...

Also, what about people who witnessed the jet trails but were not wiped? Not everyone listens to the radio or is on their mobile all the time. It's going to seem funny to them that this large group of people has no idea that there was ever anything flying over the lake.

Well, people who weren't listening to the radio don't need to be wiped; they didn't hear anything.  As for the phenomenon itself, it needs no explanation; it looks like a bunch of jet trails, and such trails do occasionally converge in large groups by chance--an entirely mundane, if infrequent, circumstance.  When it happens, absent some other explanation, most people would eventually chalk it up to that and forget about it, while a few nuts outliers rant about UFOs and are roundly ignored, and all in all it's somebody else's problem.

I also don't think airforce people would be stupid enough to call on-air; they must know that doing so would make panic worse rather than better.

Assuming that was the Air Force...

Sure, there were plot holes (namely, why are these superpowerful aliens bothering to call into radio shows.)

Rule of Funny, mostly.

That's about all the time we have for today.  Those of you who liked it: thanks, and I'm glad I could amuse you for a few minutes.  Those of you who did not: also, thanks, and I'm sorry it wasn't what you wanted.

Cheers,

Desmond Warzel



stePH

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Reply #37 on: March 23, 2011, 12:12:39 AM

I also don't think airforce people would be stupid enough to call on-air; they must know that doing so would make panic worse rather than better.

Assuming that was the Air Force...


As Joe Crummy (Los Angeles radio personality I used to listen to in the '90s) used to say: "Anybody can call a talk show."

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NoNotRogov

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Reply #38 on: March 23, 2011, 02:31:33 AM
Cute story, reminds me of the one about the astronomer filling in for a late night radio host. I liked the bit where Mike mentioned that UFO callers normally bother the night-time guy, whereas he was presumably a morning "zoo" radio host without any John Boy and Billy style goons/sidekicks of his own - an angry ranty morning guy, I guess.

Not crazy about the narration, but not from a lack of effort or some intrinsic feature on the narrator's part; just seemed a little rushed with in a few spots not enough space left between host and caller and in some parts too long of spaces. Certainly not going to complain, it's a free podcast and I assume the narration is done by volunteers in order to farm out certain functions parts of the time in order to free up Escapeartists resources for the slush piling and so on.




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Reply #39 on: March 23, 2011, 04:08:22 AM
Except for one thing: there is no /t/ sound in my last name.  I made a point of telling (to my recollection) two different people at Escape Pod that there's no /t/ sound, and sure enough, there it was.  Ms. Lafferty got it right; even the synthesizer voice got it right.  I made a point of mentioning it because people always put it there spontaneously; I'm not sure why.  Perhaps my name contains a /t/ sound in the original German.  I am not German.  Some of my ancestors were German; that's their affair, not mine.  It's a petty point, but it's my only complaint, so there.
I'll take the heat for this one. I should have been clearer with the narrator. At least I got robot-lady to say it right...

Seriously, I am very sorry. It's important and the shortcoming is mine.



dwarzel

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Reply #40 on: March 23, 2011, 09:07:14 PM
I'll take the heat for this one. I should have been clearer with the narrator. At least I got robot-lady to say it right...

No sweat.  Don't give it another thought.



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Reply #41 on: March 23, 2011, 09:27:55 PM
I liked the narration with the exception of a few odd pauses, and while it ended a little weakly, I was enjoying the act of listening to the story.  I'll take that over an excruciating story that's a chore to trod through but has a good ending.  Well, once in a while.

I assume there was, in fact, an amazing ending to this story, we just don't remember because our short term memory was erased by a special sound right afterwards...



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Reply #42 on: March 24, 2011, 02:09:56 PM
Author chiming in now, if that's not too much of a faux pas.

Hey, welcome!  Not a faux pas at all.  Many people (including me) like when an author stops by to join the discussion.

Quote
I made a point of mentioning it because people always put it there spontaneously; I'm not sure why.  Perhaps my name contains a /t/ sound in the original German.  I am not German.  Some of my ancestors were German; that's their affair, not mine.

Regarding German pronunciation:  yup, I'm pretty sure that the letter "z" in German always sounds like "tz".  One thing I like about German is that the pronunciation rules are very consistent compared with English.  (Which isn't to say that it shouldn't be pronounced how you say, just commenting on your "Perhaps").  In English, there are so many conflicting cases:  who would think, from reading them on the page, that kook and cook have different vowel sounds?




stePH

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Reply #43 on: March 24, 2011, 02:37:31 PM
Author chiming in now, if that's not too much of a faux pas.

Just be advised that prevailing attitude on your input is likely to be "you're just the author... what the hell do you know?"
« Last Edit: March 24, 2011, 05:35:08 PM by stePH »

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Reply #44 on: March 24, 2011, 04:23:53 PM
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. And the narration was fine for me, too. I'm with Dem: I think a more abrasive delivery would have been more difficult for me to listen to. The ending may have been a little weak, and it did cross my mind how convenient it was that all major players in this story happened to be listening to this one local radio station, but, hell, this is a fun story for fun's sake, and i don't have any problem leaving it at that. It wasn't written to change the world, just to make people smile, and it definitely achieved its purpose as far as i'm concerned. I giggled out loud at "all my skeletons are tastefully arranged on my front lawn." I think i enjoyed it more because it was read aloud than if i had read it on a page.



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Reply #45 on: March 25, 2011, 04:39:36 AM
Looks like I'm first to not have a great opinion of this one. The story was banal, and the "hit the reset button and make everybody forget" ending was a cheap cop-out. Boo.

Yes.  My overall feeling was "meh".  Banal is an excellent description.  A silly, pointless story.  I didn't hate it enough to to stop listening, but I really wanted it it hurry up and get to end where it finally revealed what was really happening.  I knew that was going to be the plot flow.  I am not amused by bombastic talk radio hosts so all the lead in was simply dragging out the sci fi conclusion.  It's definately not my cup of tea, but that does appear to be a minority opinion around here.



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Reply #46 on: March 26, 2011, 10:49:39 PM
I liked the story -- I saw the alien invasion coming from the beginning, though.  And that was part of the fun.  Hints of War of the Worlds, etc.

The narrator did a good job with all the different voices.  The radio host seemed a little too mellow, though.  I would have thought he would be more excited.

The only question I have about this one is the volume levels.  I'm not an audio engineer, so maybe someone can help me figure out what to do.  When the host was talking his voice was very dynamic and would rise and fall.  Turned the volume up some.  When the callers came on whatever filter was used on the voice made it almost unintelligible for me. Since I was listening in the car I turned my ipod and the stereo all the way up to max volume just to be able to hear the softer parts of his speech. Then the volume would rise again and sound blown out.  So I would turn it down and then I couldn't hear anything.  I know I wasn't in the ideal environment, but is there some way to fix this before I listen to it?



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Reply #47 on: March 27, 2011, 05:40:34 PM

The only question I have about this one is the volume levels.  I'm not an audio engineer, so maybe someone can help me figure out what to do.  When the host was talking his voice was very dynamic and would rise and fall.  Turned the volume up some.  When the callers came on whatever filter was used on the voice made it almost unintelligible for me. Since I was listening in the car I turned my ipod and the stereo all the way up to max volume just to be able to hear the softer parts of his speech. Then the volume would rise again and sound blown out.  So I would turn it down and then I couldn't hear anything.  I know I wasn't in the ideal environment, but is there some way to fix this before I listen to it?

I was listening in a relatively quiet environment with my headphones so I didn't have any trouble with the sound effects, but it does make sense that the extra car and traffic noises would have made the callers-in pretty hard to hear. These types of effects are relatively rare on Escape Pod though, so I wouldn't be too worried about having these difficulties on a regular basis. Are you able to save ones like this for when you can listen in a more quiet environment?



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Reply #48 on: March 28, 2011, 04:10:24 PM
I liked the story -- I saw the alien invasion coming from the beginning, though.  And that was part of the fun.  Hints of War of the Worlds, etc.

The narrator did a good job with all the different voices.  The radio host seemed a little too mellow, though.  I would have thought he would be more excited.

The only question I have about this one is the volume levels.  I'm not an audio engineer, so maybe someone can help me figure out what to do.  When the host was talking his voice was very dynamic and would rise and fall.  Turned the volume up some.  When the callers came on whatever filter was used on the voice made it almost unintelligible for me. Since I was listening in the car I turned my ipod and the stereo all the way up to max volume just to be able to hear the softer parts of his speech. Then the volume would rise again and sound blown out.  So I would turn it down and then I couldn't hear anything.  I know I wasn't in the ideal environment, but is there some way to fix this before I listen to it?

I've had that trouble before with other podcasts, as I do usually listen over the car stereo on my commute.  But this one I happened to listen to while doing chores around the house instead.



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Reply #49 on: March 29, 2011, 08:21:32 PM
The only question I have about this one is the volume levels.  I'm not an audio engineer, so maybe someone can help me figure out what to do.  When the host was talking his voice was very dynamic and would rise and fall.  Turned the volume up some.  When the callers came on whatever filter was used on the voice made it almost unintelligible for me. Since I was listening in the car I turned my ipod and the stereo all the way up to max volume just to be able to hear the softer parts of his speech. Then the volume would rise again and sound blown out.  So I would turn it down and then I couldn't hear anything.  I know I wasn't in the ideal environment, but is there some way to fix this before I listen to it?

That's actually a pretty accurate representation of some talk shows.

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