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Author Topic: PC153: The Ghosts Of New York  (Read 6585 times)
hcp56
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« Reply #40 on: May 03, 2011, 01:17:36 PM »

This is the first time that I have bothered to comment.  I listened to this story today, after hearing Osama Bin Laden had been killed.  So the events of 9/11 have been on my mind since Sunday night.  I'm a New Yorker, I guess.  I have lived here in Manhattan since 1988, the longest time I have lived at any one location my entire life.  I was here in 1993 and had friends that were in the WTC building when it was bombed.  I was here on 9/11 at work when my mother called me from the west coast to tell me that a plane had flown into the WTC and sat in a conference room all morning watching it all play out.  All my relatives were close calls.  My sister-in-law had the sense to evacuate after the first plane hit directly across from her on the opposite building.  Information was so scattered, I did not know if my brother who was visiting and flying out that morning was in any of the planes; he wasn't.  Near misses all.

This story made me cry.  I almost stopped listening, at the beginning.  I wasn't offended.  It was certainly thought provoking.  I certainly appreciated the inclusion of the other disasters from NYC history (100th anniversary 3/25/2011 of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire) to balance the horror of 9/11.

I guess I consider myself lucky.  I experience the fear and shock of the event, but not the deep grief of those who actually lost friends and family.  If I had, maybe I would feel differently about this story.
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Makeda
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« Reply #41 on: May 03, 2011, 06:58:03 PM »

A very interesting story.  I enjoyed it for the most part.  I think that the ending went on a bit longer than I needed.  At the moment she turned to a fellow "jumper", I was satisfied that the main character had changed enough to satisfy me.  But, it was still a good story.

I appreciated the author's willingness to take an old convention: that ghosts are shadows reenacting their lives and/or deaths to its logical conclusion with the 9/11 deaths.  Somehow, most ghosts stories don't stop to ask how ghosts feel about reliving their lives over and over.  But then, most modern ghosts stories treat the ghost as an unconscious recording of an event, not as an actual sentient being reliving an event. 

I also appreciated that she was able to wrestle a "happy" ending out of this story.  It was possible that she could have ended with the protagonist merely accepting her fate.  Instead, she finds a way to both accept her fate but also help a survivor and a fellow jumper.  Good job! 
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #42 on: May 03, 2011, 07:09:28 PM »

Quote
I appreciated the author's willingness to take an old convention: that ghosts are shadows reenacting their lives and/or deaths to its logical conclusion with the 9/11 deaths.  Somehow, most ghosts stories don't stop to ask how ghosts feel about reliving their lives over and over.  But then, most modern ghosts stories treat the ghost as an unconscious recording of an event, not as an actual sentient being reliving an event. 

This distinction is one of the prime points in Nigel Kneale's THE STONE TAPE ("does she walk?")
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jjtraw
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« Reply #43 on: May 06, 2011, 11:02:08 AM »

This probably won't be one of those stories I listen to over and over. It was rough. I cried. I got some catharis out of it. And I appreciate the bravery of the author for writing the story, and Podcastle for airing it. Thank you. And thank you for the warnings beforehand, also.

I do want to say that the whole bothersome plot point about the ghosts persisting until they are forgotten? That theory was postulated by the ghosts themselves, who clearly didn't know what was going on and were trying to figure it all out. when human beings (perhaps even psychic echoes of human beings) are confronted by something incomprehensible, they make up a story. That's how religions and superstitions can be constructed. So here we have this not-quite-a-community of ghosts, constructing a religion of sorts to explain their situation.

There's blame in the story they created, which makes sense, considering the story was created by these angry, hurting beings - it's the fault of the living people, who won't forget us! Why won't they forget us!

I am a living person, affected by tragedy. I *cannot* necessarily forget the dead, and am not convinced the dead are best served by forgetting. So it's a horribly disturbing explanation they came up with. But in my reading of the story, I did not get the sense, even in story rules, that it was the true explanation.

We never really know why the ghosts are there. We don't even know that our protagonist's comforting theories at the end are right. It's the dead, trying to make sense of the tragedy. As we all must do.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #44 on: May 06, 2011, 02:58:00 PM »

Wow, this was a rough one and I appreciated the warning at the front.

On the one hand, I'd like to be able to take a step back and discuss the story for itself, like we'd do if it was set at the scene of a made up tragedy in a made-up world. But I figure the author would have written that story instead, if that was what she wanted. So I'm left with trying to wrap my head and heart around this story, and that's just hard.

I will say that as much as I don't like this version of the afterlife (specifically the torture part, not the waiting to be forgotten part*), I thought it was treated well and personally I wasn't offended by it. I think I'll be mulling this one over for a while.

 

*I've previously heard a story in which everyone who dies goes into a cafeteria-like holding room and has to sit around and wait until the last time that anyone will ever utter their name. This really sucks for people like Einstein and anyone who gets incorporated into a local legend (think Mrs. O'Leary of the Great Chicago Fire), but in this story they're only bored, not tortured.
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acpracht
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« Reply #45 on: May 09, 2011, 11:37:09 AM »



*I've previously heard a story in which everyone who dies goes into a cafeteria-like holding room and has to sit around and wait until the last time that anyone will ever utter their name. This really sucks for people like Einstein and anyone who gets incorporated into a local legend (think Mrs. O'Leary of the Great Chicago Fire), but in this story they're only bored, not tortured.


The book is called "Sum" by David Eagleman, by the way, and it's excellent.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #46 on: May 09, 2011, 02:07:00 PM »



*I've previously heard a story in which everyone who dies goes into a cafeteria-like holding room and has to sit around and wait until the last time that anyone will ever utter their name. This really sucks for people like Einstein and anyone who gets incorporated into a local legend (think Mrs. O'Leary of the Great Chicago Fire), but in this story they're only bored, not tortured.


The book is called "Sum" by David Eagleman, by the way, and it's excellent.

Thank you! I think I originally heard it read on one of my podcasts, but I had no idea when/where, so now I can check out the whole collection Cheesy
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Skimble
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« Reply #47 on: May 13, 2011, 07:29:27 AM »

I think what I found uncomfortable in this story were the implications that could be drawn from the details as presented.

Firstly, all the ghosts were fallers. While this might simply be evidence of the universe being random and uncaring as some of you have suggested, there is a more sinister interpretation. Regardless of the circumstances, deliberately jumping from a tall building is suicide. According to some theologies that's a mortal sin; sin enough to damn the soul to perdition for all eternity.

This may not be at all what Ms. Pelland intended when she wrote the story, but it was the first thing that jumped to my mind and I felt that it overshadowed the deeper meaning of the piece.

I was also slightly disturbed by the idea that ghosts linger in this tortured state until they are forgotten (irrespective of whether the whole ghost lingers or just the echo of the person's death). I think using this concept in combination with a disaster that remains so fresh in the memory of many was... unwise.

Finally, I was dissatisfied with the protagonist's sudden 'realisation' that she was just the echo of her death and that her 'real' self may have gone on to a better afterlife. To me this smacked of wishful thinking that had no effect on her tortured existence, only offered false comfort.

There was no happy ending here.
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Atras
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« Reply #48 on: June 10, 2011, 08:52:21 AM »

Wow, just listened to Dave's tortured covering of the feedback on this episode, and I had to come and see the thread for myself.  It isn't nearly as terrible as I feared it would be, too many people take things too personally.

Terrible things happen all the time.  I have known people who died in car crashes, gun shots, wars, accidents, suicides and one person who died on 9/11.  The pain of losing someone due to a terrorist act is no greater or lesser than any other way, and if an author wants to use this point of history as a way to draw us into the suffering of one soul, more power to her.  If it had been some mentally ill person who was our "protagonist" for this story, it would have felt like a moral condemnation of the main character.  Since it was someone forced into a terrible choice, in a way that nearly every American could identify how such a choice could be made (and with our knowledge of the outcome of the choice to not jump) it is instead a haunting story, and a damn fine one.

You have every right to be offended, and go ahead and choose not to follow this author anymore, but realize that life is not here to make you feel warm and comfortable all the time, and being challenged with difficult subject material is part of life.

Editors and Author:  Keep making the hard choices when it feels right.  You don't need to always find a happy ending, even if it is in the fantasy genre.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 03:29:00 PM by Atras » Logged
Talia
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« Reply #49 on: June 10, 2011, 08:59:29 AM »

Hi Atras,. I'm glad you enjoyed the story, I did as well!

I would suggest telling others to "grow up" is not perhaps the most polite way of saying you disagree with their point of view, though. I know if someone told that to me, I'd get defensive/annoyed rather than acknowledge any point you made. I thought you made your point quite clearly in the rest of your post. Smiley
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Gamercow
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« Reply #50 on: June 10, 2011, 01:50:26 PM »

I'd get defensive/annoyed rather than acknowledge any point you made.

This.  Due to forum rules, I will not say what I really want to say.  But, seriously, have some tact and class.
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Atras
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« Reply #51 on: June 13, 2011, 03:31:48 PM »

Talia, thanks for the head's up.  Gamercow, I edited it so that my feelings don't get in the way of my message.  Feel free to PM me what you really want to say, I can handle it.
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #52 on: June 14, 2011, 12:45:21 PM »

I edited it so that my feelings don't get in the way of my message.

I like it much better now. Thanks for taking the time!

One thing you might consider (if not this occasion, then if you find yourself editing another post in the future) is a short note to indicate the nature of your edit, particularly if you change/excise something that someone refers to downstream.

Also, in case no one has already pointed you in that direction, here's a post that says more about tone in posts, though I think Talia did a really good job of getting the idea across.



Edit: Added the link, plus this illustrative example.  Wink
« Last Edit: June 14, 2011, 12:52:33 PM by Wilson Fowlie » Logged

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« Reply #53 on: June 15, 2011, 12:03:09 PM »

I'm listening to this story now, but wanted to make my comments while it's still fresh in my mind.

I had the advantage of reading this story first a couple of weeks ago when I bought a copy of Dark Faith, which is a collection of horror and dark fantasy stories exploring the nature of faith. This was the first story in the anthology, and when I read it, I wondered, how is this considered horror?

The extent of my 9/11 experience was living near O'hare Airport and having all the planes grounded. For me, the terror and fear of that day was looking the sky and seeing no planes at all. I remember fearing for my boss, who was traveling overseas. And I remember watching the planes hit the buildings and the towers fall, but through the remove of the TV screen.

In some ways, hearing this brings back those feelings, but putting it in a more meaningful context. While I was reading the story, I still felt a little removed because it's easy to skip over the passages that make you uncomfortable. Not so in audio form. I'm finding it very hard to listen to the story, even though I was fine reading it, even thinking arrogantly, "Well, that was a tame story." (and trust me, compared to some of the other stories in the anthology, it *did* feel quite time. Get Dark Faith if you like to get scared out of your wits. Brr.) There is something about the audio form of a story where you hear the emotion, and its all the more stronger. Two weeks after I read this story, I had a chance to do a reading with K. Tempest Bradford at Wiscon, who read a story of hers that also deals with 9/11. Although the setting isn't in New York, more of an Ethiopian setting, it was so strong and visceral it left me devastated. Devasted. And it was quite the powerful story.

So I'm not surprised that this story brought out a lot of strong emotion. Personally, I thought it was very well done. Oddly, in listening to it, I can't help but now think, "Man, why wasn't this put on Psuedopod?"
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #54 on: June 15, 2011, 05:24:45 PM »

Quote
Oddly, in listening to it, I can't help but now think, "Man, why wasn't this put on Psuedopod?"

And the answer is...ding! ding!  "Wasn't submitted to us"!
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justenjoying
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« Reply #55 on: January 24, 2012, 12:58:54 AM »

I liked this take on tramatic deaths. It was obviously a story that started with the twin tower attacks and got expanded from there. It was tasteful and ultimately uplifting, even if butal in some areas. I really enjoyed and it will stick with me. It gave me a new perspective on a topic I may have spent a little too much time thinking about.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #56 on: February 18, 2012, 01:37:09 AM »

I'm not unhappy that I listened to this story, but I'm not going to share this one with the wife. I'm pretty confident that she would be on the viscerally negative side of the feedback.

Something that I see recurring in the feedback here is folks mistaking that the only ghosts were of jumpers. That's all the protagonist saw at the beginning, but I recall other ghosts from other tragedies (floods and fires) becoming upset because they had almost been forgotten.
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« Reply #57 on: February 18, 2012, 03:31:13 AM »

The other tragedy ghosts explicitly told the protagonist that only people who died of jumping stayed as ghosts.  Those ghosts jumped from burning buildings, boats, bridges, etc.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #58 on: February 20, 2012, 10:08:12 AM »

The other tragedy ghosts explicitly told the protagonist that only people who died of jumping stayed as ghosts.  Those ghosts jumped from burning buildings, boats, bridges, etc.

There's a good chance I misremembered or misinterpreted what I heard. But I'm not engaged enough to relisten to the story to confirm one way or the other.
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danooli
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« Reply #59 on: September 11, 2014, 10:58:33 AM »

I'm planning on giving this a listen today...

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