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Author Topic: EP287: A Taste of Time  (Read 14826 times)
eytanz
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« on: April 07, 2011, 04:36:37 PM »

EP287: A Taste of Time

By Abby Goldsmith
Read by Mur Lafferty

Originally published in Deep Magic, May 2004
---

1.

On the night she turned twenty-nine, Jane sat on her narrow bed, watching TV and drinking alone. She’d gone through a bottle of wine and was mostly through a second bottle. Tomorrow morning would be painful.

Or she could stop worrying about tomorrow. The ibuprofen in her cabinet kept popping into her mind. Jane wasn’t sure if all those pills chased by alcohol would be enough to end her life, but the idea of looking up how to commit suicide online seemed just too pathetic.

The front door of her tiny apartment creaked open.

Jane leaned forward, peering through her bedroom doorway. A black wine bottle stood on the floor, with a placard dangling from its silver ribbon.

Her gaze immediately went to the deadbolt. It was in place, as she’d left it.

Jane shut the TV off and listened for noises from the hallway. All she heard were the sounds of Boston traffic outside. Several weeks ago, after she’d come home to find her boyfriend screwing a fat chick on her couch, she’d had the locks changed. No one could have gotten in.

Yet the bottle sat mysteriously on the wooden floor.

At last, Jane crossed her apartment, checking every shadow for an intruder.

She picked up the bottle. The placard had gilded letters, making it a potentially expensive gift.

Tabula Rasa
Warning: There Is No Return

Jane flipped the placard over twice, but nothing else was written on it.

She listened, alert for any noise. Mystery had never been much a part of her adult life, and it gave her a strangely excited feeling. If the warning label meant something like _poison_, it seemed like a more dignified way to go than pills and alcohol.

Her reflection on the black surface of the bottle was disturbingly clear. There she was: Plain Jane, a frumpy woman with a double-chin and acne scars.

She unscrewed the cap and popped the foil underneath. A stringent smell wafted up, making her wrinkle her nose and salivate at the same time.

“Happy birthday, Jane,” she told herself, and swallowed a mouthful.


Rated PG - references to infidelity

Show Notes:

  • No feedback this week because of site issues!
  • Next week… don’t drink the water.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2011, 03:43:35 PM »

I kind of liked this story. However, I had trouble connecting with Jane. I think too much of her life was skipped in large chunks. While I don't need a novel-length version of the Life of Lucky Jane, I think a few more details would have allowed me to empathize a little more with her after she got old, and maybe helped me to understand her dissatisfaction with her life (which I infer from the fact that she went back to live it over).

I liked the line looking up how to commit suicide online seemed just too pathetic - it made me smile wryly.

One nitpick, though (which I probably wouldn't have remembered to bring up if it weren't in the excerpt): the author should learn the difference between stringent and astringent. A smell can be the latter, but not the former.
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2011, 07:34:54 AM »

I really lked this story.   It was much like the novel "Replay" by Ken Grimwood which is one of my favorites.   I think a lot of people second guess choices they've made in life and stories like this fascinate me for that reason.
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stePH
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2011, 02:25:59 PM »

My only complaint about this story is that it should have run on PodCastle. Science fiction should at least try to have a logical explanation for the fantastical elements. Magic time-traveling wine = fantasy.
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Ocicat
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2011, 09:26:39 PM »

My only complaint about this story is that it should have run on PodCastle. Science fiction should at least try to have a logical explanation for the fantastical elements. Magic time-traveling wine = fantasy.

True enough, but Escape Pod can run a fantasy story if they want to.  And despite the wine having no scientific explanation, the story's take on time travel was closer to SF tropes than Fantasy tropes.  It's speculative fiction either way, of course - but I'd say this particular story was in the borderlands between SF and Fantasy and would have been appropriate for either 'cast.
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stePH
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« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2011, 12:13:27 PM »

My only complaint about this story is that it should have run on PodCastle. Science fiction should at least try to have a logical explanation for the fantastical elements. Magic time-traveling wine = fantasy.

True enough, but Escape Pod can run a fantasy story if they want to.

Why have a separate fantasy 'cast then?
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lisavilisa
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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2011, 07:46:20 PM »

Because then we get 3 casts a week? done by 3 different teams, and if there is some overlap with a fanstasy-scifi or a scifi-fantasy that is a price I am willing pay. Honestly, if they just called it escape artist 1, 2, and 3 I would still listen. I love this place.
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NoraReed
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2011, 12:55:45 AM »

Not a new idea, by any means, but it still made me think: if I had the bottle, would I use it? How? Most of my problems are biological; I could probably seek treatment for them earlier but it's not like they'd go away. I probably wouldn't be able to resist the temptation to use it, but I'm not sure how. It almost feels like using it to make any choices about romantic relationships would be exploitative, since unless you went back in time and then dated much older you'd be dealing with a maturity gap. Still, better this than being trapped inside your own head with the full knowledge of everything that is going to happen but a total inability to stop it after being sent back in time for a year.

I feel like while the basic conceit of this story wasn't really sci-fi-y, it'd still fit better as science fiction because it fits into that category of science fiction where some strange element is introduced and you see how the characters react to it. But I like both fantasy and sci-fi, so I really could care less if the editors want to blur the edges a bit.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2011, 12:30:57 PM »

It was a bit odd to have this one on EP, but I didn't really think about that as I listened because I listen to all 3 casts anyway, I tend to forget which one I'm listening to during the heat of a story.

This was a great story, one of my favorites in a while.  The bottle of Tabula Rasa was a great conceit, offering huge potential but with inherent limitations (you can't recreate a particular future, there is a limited amount of drink). 

The best part was how it made me think of:
1.  How destructive a lust for perfection can be. 
She escaped a crappy version of her life, and found what she thought she wanted, health, wealth and happiness.  But, life went on and without her husband, now that she'd lived her happy life she wanted to live a life for others and she does so, but at the cost of being completely alone in this world without friends.  She tries once again to make things better and ends up drinking herself into oblivion.  Well, perhaps oblivion--Did she drink herself back into the womb?  I hope the empty wine bottle just disappears instead of appearing with her.  And... won't she still have all of her lifetimes of memory?
2.  immortality is lonely.
This has been covered by many other shows (Highlander, for instance), but this was an interesting variation on immortality, the ability to live a very very long time but only within a certain span of dates, reliving some of them many times.
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Nobilis
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2011, 05:46:32 AM »

Having been disappointed rather a few times, I often find myself, when listening to Escape Pod stories (and other short story podcasts as well) asking myself, "What is the character arc?"

Jane discovers magic wine. Jane restarts her life to make it better for herself.  Jane relives her life to serve others. Neither satisfies her. In the end, she chooses to erase all of it.

The terrible bleakness of the end left me stunned.  I suppose that makes it a good story, though not much fun in the end.
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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2011, 05:59:20 AM »

This was way too big a tale for so short a story.

To be perfectly honest, this is more story outline than actual story. Everything is basically done in personal exposition. There's virtually no dialogue and therefore no real stakes interpersonally. We as audience are only really allowed to see inside this person's head, and frankly this person has grown very little for a nearly-sesquicentigenarian.

Plus, and this is gross and silly, but accords with the story logic; by taking the last drink, the protagonist is killing herself and her mother (remember how she always shows up in the new time holding the bottle? think about that for a moment).

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Listener
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2011, 06:11:34 AM »

I was bothered by the magical nature of this bottle of wine just appearing at Jane's house without any explanation whatsoever. I realize she was pretty down when she first drank it, but over the course of time one might think that she would make some effort to figure out where it came from. I certainly would like to have known.

It's funny that the intro mentioned "The Butterfly Effect"; they were just talking about that on the Dunesteef last episode as well. I thought that was a very good film, if a little overdone in places, and the director's cut ending -- which is probably why the author brought it up in her author's note -- was WAY better than what was shown in theaters. This story did have some parallels, especially near the ending.

It also brought up a lot of good points about living with the knowledge of the future. Especially as a ten-year-old, and again talking about how many actual years Jane had lived.

I for one would like to know if she had enough wine to go back to a true tabula rasa -- egg state. Or what might have happened if she went back to the eighth month of pregnancy? If she didn't have quite enough wine, that is. Then we get to Pseudopod territory.
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matweller
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2011, 08:11:27 AM »

I for one would like to know if she had enough wine to go back to a true tabula rasa -- egg state. Or what might have happened if she went back to the eighth month of pregnancy? If she didn't have quite enough wine, that is. Then we get to Pseudopod territory.

I had an odd thought of that too. Because she retained her memory/personality each time, if she drank herself into the womb -- say to the 5th month -- would she emerge a serial killer because of the isolation and sensory depravation? Maybe that's how it happens...we need to start looking for empty discarded wine bottles across the midwest...
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2011, 10:18:58 AM »

It's funny that the intro mentioned "The Butterfly Effect"; they were just talking about that on the Dunesteef last episode as well. I thought that was a very good film, if a little overdone in places, and the director's cut ending -- which is probably why the author brought it up in her author's note -- was WAY better than what was shown in theaters. This story did have some parallels, especially near the ending.

When I first saw that movie, I hated it.  I don't remember why, except for a general dislike of Ashton Kutcher.  Yet, I find myself thinking about it all the time, and all the possible ramifications of such an ability.  And now I want to see it again, to see if I still dislike it. 
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Gamercow
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« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2011, 11:22:36 AM »

First, "The Butterfly Effect" short story the movie was based on was better.("A Sound of Thunder", Ray Bradbury)  This is nothing new. (see "I, Robot", "Minority Report", etc)

Second, I disliked this story, but I'm not fully sure why.  Perhaps because it seems to indicate that if you are rich, you will lead a happy life. Perhaps because that, for most people, is true, but is depressing. 
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« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2011, 02:40:06 PM »

If you kind of liked this story (I did) you would love the book Replay by Ken Grimwood. Best time travel novel I’ve ever read.

Seriously, check it out.

"Jeff Winston, a failing 43-year-old radio journalist, dies and wakes up in his 18-year-old body in 1963 with his memories of the next 25 years intact."

This story reminded me of it. Well done.
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NoNotRogov
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« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2011, 08:50:49 PM »


To be perfectly honest, this is more story outline than actual story. Everything is basically done in personal exposition. There's virtually no dialogue and therefore no real stakes interpersonally. We as audience are only really allowed to see inside this person's head, and frankly this person has grown very little for a nearly-sesquicentigenarian.

I noticed this as well, and didn't know whether to talk about it as a flaw or as a format I quite enjoy. Certainly some of my favorite Lovecraft stories are done in this way, and as someone who isn't a writer this is the way I *wish* I could write narratives - a monologue/journal style exposition seems more comprehensible to someone that can only do plot, setting, and character sketches than the tangled web of individual scenes showing rather than telling a story.

In some ways it's a little depressing to dissect stories like this, think about how prevalent they might be in fiction, and think of them in terms of nothing really happening. How much fiction has any meaning at all? How much of your time do you spend on things don't show you anything, instead tell you? In a way is it like all those cool things you think about, spend so much time thinking about, but never saw or read the source material of? The movies and books you think about the tropes of as you try to write stories or just fantasize or come up with neat ideas for a roleplaying game or for a webcomic or just to come up with a cool idea that you bore friends with; but that you never actually saw or read.

But that kind of existential problem didn't last long for me in this case because I realized that A. like Lovecraft's expositions, the content of Jane's character wasn't told to us but rather shown through her thoughts and actions, and B. speculative tropes are cool even when they are not part of the kind of narrative that forms a movie in our heads. Rather than talk about what isn't a new idea, which I did last time I reviewed a story and could do every time with ever story if I don't nip the habit in the bud, I will cut directly to the point of saying that I liked the idea of her attempting to become a prophet (which spun off ideas of what a living prophet's existence and impact on the world might be like in the modern day) and I liked the notion of someone who has lived a full life (or several) trapped in an earlier existence. Not just a young body like the child vampire in Interview, but suddenly replacing the consciousness of someone infinitely more inexperienced - whether occupying your own body from years before as in this story (and Hot Tub Time Machine, for example) or the infinitely jaded Death occupying Brad Pitt's body in that one film I can't remember the name of right now.

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Talia
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« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2011, 09:40:11 PM »

I enjoyed this one, though I too rankled a bit at the suggestion that being wealthy is the key to a happy life.

It hadn't occurred to me what if she went back .. with the bottle.. into her mother's womb. OUCH!! Pseudopod territory indeed! This story's got potential qualities for all three 'casts! :p

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« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2011, 04:11:40 PM »

If you kind of liked this story (I did) you would love the book Replay by Ken Grimwood. Best time travel novel I’ve ever read.

Seriously, check it out.

"Jeff Winston, a failing 43-year-old radio journalist, dies and wakes up in his 18-year-old body in 1963 with his memories of the next 25 years intact."

This story reminded me of it. Well done.

And, in reverse:

http://www.amazon.com/Instructions-Living-Someone-Elses-Life/dp/029785125X

I didn't think it was Millington's best book, but it was still enjoyable.
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« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2011, 07:18:29 AM »

A nice story. Nothing mind-boggling or never seen before, but I still enjoyed it.

There's just one thing that bothers me, and I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it yet. If this story was first published in 2004, how did the author know about the BP oil spill, which was last year?
Yes, the story mentions an oil spill in the gulf of Mexico, but I doubt that it's a reference to the 1980 spill, the years don't add up right.

I came up with two explanations:
1. The interesting one, which states that the story is somewhat autobiographical in the sense that the author has her own bottle of time travel wine.
2. The boring one, which states that the author touched up the story for a more "contemporary" audience.
I will be very disappointed if it's the latter, and not the former.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2011, 08:16:52 AM »

If you kind of liked this story (I did) you would love the book Replay by Ken Grimwood. Best time travel novel I’ve ever read.

Seriously, check it out.

"Jeff Winston, a failing 43-year-old radio journalist, dies and wakes up in his 18-year-old body in 1963 with his memories of the next 25 years intact."

This story reminded me of it. Well done.

Reminded me of the recent movie "17 Again".  Which is much more funny than the previews made it look.
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2011, 09:10:15 AM »

A nice story. Nothing mind-boggling or never seen before, but I still enjoyed it.

There's just one thing that bothers me, and I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it yet. If this story was first published in 2004, how did the author know about the BP oil spill, which was last year?
Yes, the story mentions an oil spill in the gulf of Mexico, but I doubt that it's a reference to the 1980 spill, the years don't add up right.

I came up with two explanations:
1. The interesting one, which states that the story is somewhat autobiographical in the sense that the author has her own bottle of time travel wine.
2. The boring one, which states that the author touched up the story for a more "contemporary" audience.
I will be very disappointed if it's the latter, and not the former.

There's a third option, which is that the author happened to include the oil spill in the story in 2004 (or earlier), and the BP disaster last year matching it is simple coincidence.
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« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2011, 01:25:32 PM »

Plus, and this is gross and silly, but accords with the story logic; by taking the last drink, the protagonist is killing herself and her mother (remember how she always shows up in the new time holding the bottle? think about that for a moment).

Woah!  I hadn't thought of the bottle appearing with her, but you're right unless the "magic" makes the bottle disappear at the last drop.  I keep thinking that there's no sign of Jane's mind forgetting or matching her biological age so imagine how depressing it will be for Jane to be a 100+ year old fetus or infant.  She'll probably kill herself as soon as she gets the chance.
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« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2011, 03:06:51 PM »

A nice story. Nothing mind-boggling or never seen before, but I still enjoyed it.

There's just one thing that bothers me, and I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it yet. If this story was first published in 2004, how did the author know about the BP oil spill, which was last year?
Yes, the story mentions an oil spill in the gulf of Mexico, but I doubt that it's a reference to the 1980 spill, the years don't add up right.

I came up with two explanations:
1. The interesting one, which states that the story is somewhat autobiographical in the sense that the author has her own bottle of time travel wine.
2. The boring one, which states that the author touched up the story for a more "contemporary" audience.
I will be very disappointed if it's the latter, and not the former.

There's a third option, which is that the author happened to include the oil spill in the story in 2004 (or earlier), and the BP disaster last year matching it is simple coincidence.

I dunno.... it was pretty specific. Time and place.
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stePH
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« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2011, 06:36:42 PM »

There's a third option, which is that the author happened to include the oil spill in the story in 2004 (or earlier), and the BP disaster last year matching it is simple coincidence.

I dunno.... it was pretty specific. Time and place.

Coincidences do happen. Even wildly improbable ones.
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matweller
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« Reply #25 on: April 17, 2011, 08:57:13 AM »

Agreed. Plus, some coincidences have significantly higher probability factors. For instance, I nearly guarantee there will be an earthquake and resulting tsunami that will erase entire islands in Malaysia and Hawaii within the next five years. Precognition? No, I can just read history.
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Talia
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« Reply #26 on: April 17, 2011, 09:09:10 AM »

Agreed. Plus, some coincidences have significantly higher probability factors. For instance, I nearly guarantee there will be an earthquake and resulting tsunami that will erase entire islands in Malaysia and Hawaii within the next five years. Precognition? No, I can just read history.

Or you're about to enact some sinister plan.

*narrows eyes*
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Corydon
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« Reply #27 on: April 18, 2011, 07:41:21 AM »

Jane makes a comment, maybe 2/3 of the way through the story, about missing family. It struck me that she didn't have children- and that the subject of children never came up.  Of course, many people never want to have kids, and others can't, and presumably Jane was in one of those categories. 

But Jane not having kids also avoids a problem: going back in time to before her children were born would (potentially, at least) scrub them from existence.  That's something of a horrible thought to a parent.


Also, yeah.  "Replay."  I read that ages ago and enjoyed it.  Lots of similarities with this story.
 
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Gamercow
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« Reply #28 on: April 18, 2011, 09:31:10 AM »

A nice story. Nothing mind-boggling or never seen before, but I still enjoyed it.

There's just one thing that bothers me, and I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it yet. If this story was first published in 2004, how did the author know about the BP oil spill, which was last year?


I caught this too, and figured it was just a typo on the year. 
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eytanz
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« Reply #29 on: April 18, 2011, 09:42:06 AM »

A nice story. Nothing mind-boggling or never seen before, but I still enjoyed it.

There's just one thing that bothers me, and I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it yet. If this story was first published in 2004, how did the author know about the BP oil spill, which was last year?


I caught this too, and figured it was just a typo on the year. 

It is not a typo.
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El Barto
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« Reply #30 on: April 18, 2011, 06:23:50 PM »

My only complaint about this story is that it should have run on PodCastle. Science fiction should at least try to have a logical explanation for the fantastical elements. Magic time-traveling wine = fantasy.

True enough, but Escape Pod can run a fantasy story if they want to. 

Ocicat is of course correct that Escape Pod *can* run a fantasy story if it wants to.  The editors who do all the work have certainly earned that prerogative. 

But I would like to respectfully suggest that they consider that if someone has their heart set on seafood, has been thinking about seafood all week, and goes to a great seafood restaurant for dinner on Saturday night, that person would be understandably frustrated to order lobster and be handed a plate of rare/bloody steak, no matter how much a steak lover might like that particular steak.

To stretch the analogy a bit further, I get extra frustrated when this happens at Escape Pod because I don't discover that I'm getting a fantasy story until I have already invested in listening to the story.   

I wish the editors would please please please identify stories like this as magic/fantasy right up front so that those of us who greatly dislike that genre can skip the episode. 







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« Reply #31 on: April 18, 2011, 07:10:58 PM »

You're assuming that the editor thought this was a fantasy piece and ran it as such. Genre is in the eyes of the beholder sometimes, and I doubt our esteemed leader would try to sneak in something she didn't think was appropriate. It's a bit callous of you to think she would. Are you always so blindly
judgmental? Because without her, this is all empty and insulting supposition.

Mind you, I'm back on my diet and have given up my daily cigar, so my view is presently a bit skewed.
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Gamercow
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« Reply #32 on: April 18, 2011, 09:13:28 PM »

time travel stories are SF to me.  Always will be.  Yes, that includes "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court"
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« Reply #33 on: April 18, 2011, 10:07:15 PM »

time travel stories are SF to me.  Always will be.  Yes, that includes "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court"

but but but, that's... y'know... medieval and stuff!!
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« Reply #34 on: April 19, 2011, 08:30:46 AM »

Time travel and superheroes are odd ducks in the genre definitions.  For me, generally, I call a time travel story fantasy or SF depending on the origin of time travel.  In "Back to the Future" time travel was done with a machine made by a scientist studying time travel, so I consider that SF.  In this story a bottle appears that seems to be both magic in origin and method of operation.  Seems fantasy to me.  I've written a story with time travel where the method is never revealed, always happening off-camera to non-POV characters.  That one I'd call either SF or fantasy (generally depending on what market I'm sending to).

But I can't say I'm really worked up about it.  If EP runs the occasional fantasy story I'm not going to have a conniption fit. 

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Father Beast
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« Reply #35 on: April 21, 2011, 06:43:23 AM »

My very first thought, when she realized that she was back in 1999, was that the back episodes of geek fu action grip were still available then!
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« Reply #36 on: April 21, 2011, 06:45:29 AM »

My only complaint about this story is that it should have run on PodCastle. Science fiction should at least try to have a logical explanation for the fantastical elements. Magic time-traveling wine = fantasy.

I can think of no story that has run on Escape Pod that is not fantasy
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« Reply #37 on: April 21, 2011, 08:43:46 AM »

My only complaint about this story is that it should have run on PodCastle. Science fiction should at least try to have a logical explanation for the fantastical elements. Magic time-traveling wine = fantasy.

I can think of no story that has run on Escape Pod that is not fantasy

Huh 
Are you using a very broad definition of fantasy that includes all science fiction within it?
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stePH
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« Reply #38 on: April 21, 2011, 09:13:54 AM »

I can think of no story that has run on Escape Pod that is not fantasy

Huh  
Are you using a very broad definition of fantasy that includes all science fiction within it?


Must be, at the very least, if not "all fiction".
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« Reply #39 on: April 22, 2011, 12:32:53 AM »

I really enjoyed the story. It took a while (and was just about ready to puke when she got Robert after winning the lottery), but the story really redeemed itself by the end, painting a great portrait of someone who is never satisfied with what they have. The story starts with thoughts of suicide, and ends with a symbolic suicide. Jane just can't seem to be happy, no matter what she does.
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« Reply #40 on: April 22, 2011, 08:48:58 AM »

I really enjoyed the story. It took a while (and was just about ready to puke when she got Robert after winning the lottery), but the story really redeemed itself by the end, painting a great portrait of someone who is never satisfied with what they have. The story starts with thoughts of suicide, and ends with a symbolic suicide. Jane just can't seem to be happy, no matter what she does.

A rags to riches to rags story.
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El Barto
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« Reply #41 on: April 22, 2011, 11:06:54 AM »

You're assuming that the editor thought this was a fantasy piece and ran it as such. Genre is in the eyes of the beholder sometimes, and I doubt our esteemed leader would try to sneak in something she didn't think was appropriate. It's a bit callous of you to think she would. Are you always so blindly
judgmental? Because without her, this is all empty and insulting supposition.

Mind you, I'm back on my diet and have given up my daily cigar, so my view is presently a bit skewed.


That's a good point, and I would be interested to know what Mur's thought process was here. My guess is she read the story, liked it, and glossed over the magic wine part of it because it didn't jump out at her as a problem.   In which case the point of my feedback was to let her know that some of us think that the presence of a bottle of magic wine makes the story a questionable fit for a science fiction podcast.

Alternatively, if she noticed that a magic bottle of wine was the crux of the story and knew it would like rub many of her listeners the wrong way, my feedback was to ask her to please consider throwing a heads-up/disclaimer at the intro to the story so that those of us who dislike stories where the central technology is magic can skip the story instead of listening to it and being disappointed, as I was.







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Father Beast
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« Reply #42 on: April 22, 2011, 08:17:28 PM »

My only complaint about this story is that it should have run on PodCastle. Science fiction should at least try to have a logical explanation for the fantastical elements. Magic time-traveling wine = fantasy.

I can think of no story that has run on Escape Pod that is not fantasy

Huh 
Are you using a very broad definition of fantasy that includes all science fiction within it?


admittedly, the only definition of fantasy I can work with (a story with some fantastic element) is also the only definition of science fiction I can work with. Therefore, they are the same thing.

To declare that the delineation is made solely by personal arbitration (what I'm pointing at) is to say that the people who tell Connie Willis that her time travel novels are not science fiction are correct. I don't buy that.

There is a softer definition that can be used, although it is full of holes: that magic is used by a person's internal power, and technology uses an outside element. i.e. if a person channels energy through their body to create a dimensional warp, that's magic. if a person presses a button to create a dimensional warp, that's science. By that definition, the woman was using an outside agent to accomplish her time travel, instead of effecting the jumps through inner power, therefore it is science.

A pseudoscientific explanation can be made for any fantastic element. and likewise, a mystical explanation can be made for any fantastic element. In this story, no explanation is even attempted, so to declare that it is mystical is unsupported. For all we know, the time travel was accomplished through nanotech within the wine. or the wine being in a partial hyper-dimensional state. or it being an experiment performed by aliens, or any number of other things.

Anyway, to declare that there should be a warning that some people might not like the content of the story is absurd. I thought it was awesome.
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« Reply #43 on: April 23, 2011, 12:27:52 AM »

Who cares about genre? The real question here is: would you have used it? How far back would you go?

I sort of think I'd go back to high school and fix everything I did wrong from there on out.
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hardware
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« Reply #44 on: April 25, 2011, 04:31:40 AM »

Hmm. I didn't really like this one at all. I think the main reason was that there was no compelling character in the story, we get no meat on the bones of even the main protagonist, only hints of events and happiness and failures, but nothing is allowed to be important. And given that what happened, happened between the lines, I would have needed a psychologically believable character. Also, there was a disturbing lack of originality (winning the lottery was all that was needed for a life of happiness, really ?) and a discomforting antimorality (as long as she only did things for herself, everything went fine, but as soon as she wanted to help anyone, she was punished to a life of loneliness and boredom).

By the way, was this a time travel or parallel universes story? I would say the latter, since even the first time she time traveled, things were a bit different than in her original life (the colleague who had never talked to her coming over for a chat).

And, yeah, I despised 'The Butterfly Effect'.
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« Reply #45 on: April 25, 2011, 11:23:23 AM »

By the way, was this a time travel or parallel universes story? I would say the latter, since even the first time she time traveled, things were a bit different than in her original life (the colleague who had never talked to her coming over for a chat).

It seemed like time travel, not parallel universes to me (though you can argue that when she branched the timeline she was traveling into other universes on the tangent of her choices).  Her co-worker stopped to chat, but she first said something because she saw her sneaking a bottle and was impressed by the her sneaky wine-swilling, enough to spark a conversation where conversation had never happened.
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« Reply #46 on: April 29, 2011, 09:59:31 AM »

I'm sorry, but I really hated this one. Actually, I liked about the first half, but then it just fell off a cliff.

1. Jim Crocce did this story way better in way less time. His protagonist was also braver and more interesting.
2. How stupid do you have to be not to know that if you set up a bomb scare at the World Trade Center, they'll evacuate the building. Not hard to set up a bomb scare. Even an anonymous phone call would get them to pull folks from the building. The point is there is almost always a way if you stop for a moment to think, and when you're beating your head against the wall, try something else! This protagonist was weak minded and weak willed.
3. The end, my god woman, grow a pair and use your super powers to make things better. Wallowing in "Boo Effing Hoo, I'm 11 and my peers don't like me" when you've already ruled the world once just doesn't cut it.

What would have been interesting was how she might have changed the world/her life the second and third and fourth time around. Seeing that would have been cool. What would your choices be on that last swig after that? That's the question I was hoping for. Instead she had force us to watch this pitiful excuse of a Kassandra cry into her Black Sabbath. Just a stupid waste.
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« Reply #47 on: April 29, 2011, 11:29:31 AM »

1. Jim Crocce did this story way better in way less time. His protagonist was also braver and more interesting.

Yeah, but he totally got trumped by the muppets... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvnCKJCgCD8
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Devoted135
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« Reply #48 on: May 02, 2011, 03:33:31 PM »

Little late to the party, but hey, why not? Smiley

I thought it was really interesting how the MC evolved in terms of what she thought was worth living for. First for money and "the perfect life" but by the end she felt guilty for not using her gift for others. So she went back to live for others and tried to make the world a better place, but found herself ultimately estranged from all she had previously known. So she went back to try and fix it again, and of course through the fixing everything got worse and worse.

Leaving behind the horrifying possibilities of the last scene, this character arc was a really interesting way to portray the real life arcs of so many people. "We" work so hard to get rich and have a good life, but at some point realize that we still feel empty inside so we devote ourselves to serving others (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bono's charities.... not to say that the world isn't a much better place due to their work) to try and make up for it. Somehow this doesn't end up quite satisfying us the way we thought it would so we try again. It's kind of sad to think about, actually. So I suppose the question I'm left with at the end of the MC's story is what could she have done differently, what would have satisfied her?*


*If this paragraph doesn't describe you, then please don't think I mean for it to do so. Obviously, not everyone goes through this arc, or has the same reactions to each particular step of this arc. YMMV  Smiley
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« Reply #49 on: May 12, 2011, 11:59:53 AM »

Finally got around to listening to this...and yes, that means I'm catching up to my own story, which is weird in its own sense.

It's very interesting to compare the protag from this story and mine. Both are women who are not satisfied with their circumstances. Both get caught up in the "what if" trap. It does feel like that this story is bleaker. It starts off with the MC contemplating suicide, and towards the end it feels like she does (unless she truly does wake up in her mother's womb. I don't think though that the bottle would appear with her. If it's empty, it's entirely conceivable that the magic was in the elixir and not the bottle itself.) What gets me is that *nothing* this protag does makes her happy, even when she does get the happy life she always wanted. She's *never* satisfied, but she can't let herself die a normal death because...what if she *could* get a happy life? As long as there is enough tabula Rasa, the *possibility* still exists. My protag towards the end went insane, but it least it was a happy sort of insane? This protag feels as if she's driven more by despair.

All in all, I found this more frightening than my tale.
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« Reply #50 on: May 12, 2011, 10:34:55 PM »

Finally got around to listening to this...and yes, that means I'm catching up to my own story, which is weird in its own sense.

It's very interesting to compare the protag from this story and mine. Both are women who are not satisfied with their circumstances. Both get caught up in the "what if" trap. It does feel like that this story is bleaker. It starts off with the MC contemplating suicide, and towards the end it feels like she does (unless she truly does wake up in her mother's womb. I don't think though that the bottle would appear with her. If it's empty, it's entirely conceivable that the magic was in the elixir and not the bottle itself.) What gets me is that *nothing* this protag does makes her happy, even when she does get the happy life she always wanted. She's *never* satisfied, but she can't let herself die a normal death because...what if she *could* get a happy life? As long as there is enough tabula Rasa, the *possibility* still exists. My protag towards the end went insane, but it least it was a happy sort of insane? This protag feels as if she's driven more by despair.

All in all, I found this more frightening than my tale.


I dunno, I read it more that she could not bear not knowing what might have happened. You're probably more correct since I haven't listened to it for a while but that's the essence I took away from it. Sure, Sometimes she had a good go around at life -- but what if it could have been better?

' "Child," said Aslan, "did I not explain to you once before that no one is ever told what would have happened?" '
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Faraway Ray
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« Reply #51 on: May 13, 2011, 08:16:12 AM »

I liked it well enough.

This one is that could just as easily have been a flash piece, or have been a complete story centering on the first drink. I almost wish it had been. The amount of change possible in just a two year span would be sufficient for a (shorter) story, and might be easier to relate to with the lens closer to the slide, so to speak. It starts getting pretty esoteric after she's already lived an entire lifetime. Everything past the "got rich, got old" timeline feels like its more of an exploration of a concept than a necessary part of the tale.
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« Reply #52 on: May 19, 2011, 12:22:01 PM »

My protag towards the end went insane, but it least it was a happy sort of insane?

Great quote!
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jwbjerk
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« Reply #53 on: July 05, 2011, 01:09:21 PM »

Wow, if she thinks being physically 11 with the memories of 100+ years is bad, being unborn will be torment supreme.

It struck me as odd that a story that tries to explore the unexpected consequences of extreme manipulation of your life, would miss this obvious one.  Sure tons of people want to win the lottery, but most people that do quickly end up bankrupt, and many claim that it ruined their life.  This story sorta treated lottery-winning as the key to the "happy ending", or at least as close to a happy ending as this story would go if she had actually allowed it to be an ending.
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