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Author Topic: EP297: Amaryllis  (Read 7742 times)
Julio
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« Reply #40 on: June 24, 2011, 08:27:57 PM »

there was no problem to be solved that was worth mentioning.

I completely disagree. The issue with the guy who was measuring their catches was a serious one, considering he was actively screwing them over with potentially severe consequences.

I disagree as well... The guy is not the problem of the story, he has no arc in the story, and doesn't understand all unhappiness he is causing. I think the "problem" of the story is the protagonist who (although she won't admit it) thinks that she deserves all bad things that happen to her, who doesn't want to improve for this same reason.
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Talia
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« Reply #41 on: June 24, 2011, 08:32:01 PM »

there was no problem to be solved that was worth mentioning.

I completely disagree. The issue with the guy who was measuring their catches was a serious one, considering he was actively screwing them over with potentially severe consequences.

I disagree as well... The guy is not the problem of the story, he has no arc in the story, and doesn't understand all unhappiness he is causing. I think the "problem" of the story is the protagonist who (although she won't admit it) thinks that she deserves all bad things that happen to her, who doesn't want to improve for this same reason.

Good point.
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Salul
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« Reply #42 on: June 30, 2011, 09:56:58 PM »

I think the story was more or less decently written, hence the characters, or at least the MC and a couple of others, are fleshed out just enough to make them believable, with a bit of biographical depth. The context and world building could have worked better, I thought, but were never really fleshed out or pursued further.

However I was also left wondering about this one being nominated.

Since no one has said so thus far, I wonder if some of those who really enjoyed it or felt emotionally drawn to it weren't reacting in part to the narrator's tone, inflection, etc. She does a good job of putting emotion into it. Having said that, for the first half, as I tried to imagine this tough captain-lady, the narrator's tone just felt too nice - at one point I almost thought it made it sound like YA fiction. But then as the story unfolds and the MC turns out to be rather incapable of taking decisive action that part of the narrating felt perhaps more in line with the story.

One last thought re:
I can appreciate the need for a more communal society when resources are limited. Unfortunately, even in a communal society someone has to be in charge of deciding allotments of resources. When an entire society comes to depend on a centralized controlling entity for its existence then corruption, favoritism and despotism often occurs.

This story presents a somewhat favorable view of a communal society, but it is only a story. In reality, when someone has the courage to expose corruption of public officials in such collective regimes, they are the ones often punished.

Although it is easy to forget, our purportedly globalised planet is currently home to over 4,000 different language communities (yes, that's languages, not "dialects"), comprising thousands of distinct cultural and ethnic groups, not to mention ways of understanding and ordering their particular worlds. In a substantial majority of these groups individualism of the kind you describe is virtually nonexistent; indeed it is antithetical to how people conceive their life-worlds, which is mostly as networks of relations and interdependent institutions. To reduce communalism, as is so often the case in the Cold War and post-Cold War Euroamerican imagination, to a caricature of failed socialist/communist utopias really speaks volumes to our own cultural limitations than to anything else.

Sorry, that all sounds like a rant, and maybe it is, but this touched a raw nerve since I have spent the past 15 years carrying out in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in societies of Oceania and Inner Asia that are profoundly communal, demographically insignificant and in most cases deeply isolated. Communal distribution and ownership in these places makes total sense and is anything but abusive. Moreover, what  these peoples can teach us -in their own peculiar ways- about conflict resolution and survival in the most unlikely environmental and historical circumstances would, I think, leave many of us wondering whether it's out of a SF setting.

Yes, I exaggerate slightly, but much of what I say here is true.
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« Reply #43 on: June 30, 2011, 11:40:20 PM »

One last thought re:
I can appreciate the need for a more communal society when resources are limited. Unfortunately, even in a communal society someone has to be in charge of deciding allotments of resources. When an entire society comes to depend on a centralized controlling entity for its existence then corruption, favoritism and despotism often occurs.

This story presents a somewhat favorable view of a communal society, but it is only a story. In reality, when someone has the courage to expose corruption of public officials in such collective regimes, they are the ones often punished.

Although it is easy to forget, our purportedly globalised planet is currently home to over 4,000 different language communities (yes, that's languages, not "dialects"), comprising thousands of distinct cultural and ethnic groups, not to mention ways of understanding and ordering their particular worlds. In a substantial majority of these groups individualism of the kind you describe is virtually nonexistent; indeed it is antithetical to how people conceive their life-worlds, which is mostly as networks of relations and interdependent institutions. To reduce communalism, as is so often the case in the Cold War and post-Cold War Euroamerican imagination, to a caricature of failed socialist/communist utopias really speaks volumes to our own cultural limitations than to anything else.

Sorry, that all sounds like a rant, and maybe it is, but this touched a raw nerve since I have spent the past 15 years carrying out in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in societies of Oceania and Inner Asia that are profoundly communal, demographically insignificant and in most cases deeply isolated. Communal distribution and ownership in these places makes total sense and is anything but abusive. Moreover, what  these peoples can teach us -in their own peculiar ways- about conflict resolution and survival in the most unlikely environmental and historical circumstances would, I think, leave many of us wondering whether it's out of a SF setting.

Yes, I exaggerate slightly, but much of what I say here is true.

Preach, brother/sister/thing!
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Unblinking
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« Reply #44 on: July 01, 2011, 11:08:51 AM »

Since no one has said so thus far, I wonder if some of those who really enjoyed it or felt emotionally drawn to it weren't reacting in part to the narrator's tone, inflection, etc. She does a good job of putting emotion into it. Having said that, for the first half, as I tried to imagine this tough captain-lady, the narrator's tone just felt too nice - at one point I almost thought it made it sound like YA fiction. But then as the story unfolds and the MC turns out to be rather incapable of taking decisive action that part of the narrating felt perhaps more in line with the story.

Good question.  I'd first read it in text on Lightspeed, and had had the same reaction as I did hearing it the 2nd time.  It's possible that if I'd first heard it I would've had a different reaction.  For my part, I don't think my reaction would really have differed. 
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« Reply #45 on: July 01, 2011, 03:23:55 PM »

Preach, brother/sister/thing!

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It's been a while since a comment on any particular forum actually made me laugh out loud.
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« Reply #46 on: July 02, 2011, 08:52:16 AM »

I'm just getting around to replying to the points made by 'Unblinking' especially in his replies to my comments. We were broadly on either side of the 'I like this story / I don't like this story' divide'.

It may be that one of the reasons this story divided people is that it has something of a 'slice of life' feel to it, rather than the usual beginning, middle end. For me the interaction of character, and the identification with characters worked, I think of others it didn't. I can see why Unblinking would say (quote):

It was way too long for its content.  If it had been half the length it might've been about right.  As it was, it seemed like ages between anything important happening.  My mind kept wandering, but when I rewound and relistened I hadn't really missed anything.

I think with this story you had to savour the journey, if that worked for you, great, if it didn't and it all seemed like meagre fare, as it did for a number of people, then you are going to end up feeling like there wasn't much to this episode.

The other issue here is that it might not be wise to listen to this story thinking too much about it's award nomination, if anyone did that they might well end up spending more time comparing it to the standard in their head and not just enjoying the tale for what it is.

I think the story works, but it leaving me thinking the author could do even more, even better; whatever the outcome of the awards, my advice to Carrie Vaughn (meant absolutely as encouragement)would be: ' This is very good, but I think there's even more in you as a writer; keep aiming higher, your best work is yet to come.'
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olivaw
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« Reply #47 on: July 03, 2011, 09:57:46 AM »

I couldn't help while listening to this but think of something a friend wrote: 'The Fish Quota Song'.

Tedious backstory: part of a political fantasy LRP game we play involves the harvesting of resources; fish in particular were being harvested to excess, so we needed to agree some fishing protocols. The discussions were infamously long and boring. Before long, 'the Fish Quota' became a codeword for 'long and boring conversation', and was in fact used as a cover to dissuade people from listening in on much more interesting and important conversations. In celebration of this, my friend was asked to write a song on the subject, and rose to the challenge.

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Sparrow
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« Reply #48 on: July 04, 2011, 02:17:18 PM »

I liked the pacing and world building, but ultimately felt it was a bit too heavy on explaining how the world worked. I wonder if part of that had to do with it being read out loud? Stories read different to me on the page versus out loud.
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Unblinking
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« Reply #49 on: July 05, 2011, 09:16:00 AM »

The other issue here is that it might not be wise to listen to this story thinking too much about it's award nomination, if anyone did that they might well end up spending more time comparing it to the standard in their head and not just enjoying the tale for what it is.

I think that's just a natural response to any kind of award nom.  I often say similar things for the Oscar winners, and etc...  Awards are always a point of contention.  I like to hear what was nominated to get an idea what people are looking for in a winning story.  Unfortunately the answer is usually "Not what I like to read" (and all-too-often "Stories by people who are already famous, regardless of quality"). 

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect more from a Hugo-nominated story.  It was chosen by a large portion of the SF fan community as being within the top five of its class for its year.  That's supposed to be significant.
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« Reply #50 on: July 05, 2011, 10:52:39 AM »

The other issue here is that it might not be wise to listen to this story thinking too much about it's award nomination, if anyone did that they might well end up spending more time comparing it to the standard in their head and not just enjoying the tale for what it is.

I think that's just a natural response to any kind of award nom.  I often say similar things for the Oscar winners, and etc...  Awards are always a point of contention.  I like to hear what was nominated to get an idea what people are looking for in a winning story.  Unfortunately the answer is usually "Not what I like to read" (and all-too-often "Stories by people who are already famous, regardless of quality"). 

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect more from a Hugo-nominated story.  It was chosen by a large portion of the SF fan community as being within the top five of its class for its year.  That's supposed to be significant.

I imagine that means 'first past the post' which may not be what most people want to have as the winner. Given the huge range of preferences even on this forum, you can imagine several niche nominations from preference groups constituting the majority of votes, with one general appeal entry getting the rest. One of those will win over a bunch of quality niches every time. Not that all niches are quality and all general appeals are dross. Withdraws to safe distance while numbers geeks take aim ...
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« Reply #51 on: July 05, 2011, 11:13:00 AM »

I imagine that means 'first past the post' which may not be what most people want to have as the winner. Given the huge range of preferences even on this forum, you can imagine several niche nominations from preference groups constituting the majority of votes, with one general appeal entry getting the rest. One of those will win over a bunch of quality niches every time. Not that all niches are quality and all general appeals are dross. Withdraws to safe distance while numbers geeks take aim ...

Yeah, I think that's generally pretty fair to say.  The winner may not be anyone's absolute favorite, but might be lot's of people's 2nd or 3rd favorite.  A story with wide general appeal that may simply be okay, written by Big Name at Big Magazine is much much more likely to win than one which is of superb quality aimed at a smaller niche, or written by an author or published in a magazine with less exposure.
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« Reply #52 on: July 05, 2011, 08:08:45 PM »

The other issue here is that it might not be wise to listen to this story thinking too much about it's award nomination, if anyone did that they might well end up spending more time comparing it to the standard in their head and not just enjoying the tale for what it is.

I think that's just a natural response to any kind of award nom.  I often say similar things for the Oscar winners, and etc...  Awards are always a point of contention.  I like to hear what was nominated to get an idea what people are looking for in a winning story.  Unfortunately the answer is usually "Not what I like to read" (and all-too-often "Stories by people who are already famous, regardless of quality"). 

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect more from a Hugo-nominated story.  It was chosen by a large portion of the SF fan community as being within the top five of its class for its year.  That's supposed to be significant.


Not sure if this'll get split off, but --

1. I've found over the past few years that the Hugo stories are generally polarizing on the forums. Especially last year and this year. It may be because we're expecting more.

2. Just because it's award-nominated doesn't mean it's (a) good (b) one of the five best stories in its category (c) something you'll like.
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« Reply #53 on: July 06, 2011, 08:29:17 AM »

Not sure if this'll get split off, but --

1. I've found over the past few years that the Hugo stories are generally polarizing on the forums. Especially last year and this year. It may be because we're expecting more.

2. Just because it's award-nominated doesn't mean it's (a) good (b) one of the five best stories in its category (c) something you'll like.

True, true.  I think any popular awards are generally polarizing no matter where you go, this is but one of those.  Smiley  I don't really see a problem with that, it encourages some good lively discussion about what makes a story "good".  That kind of discussion is the reason I show up here.  I'd say, though, that the point of having awards is to attempt to reward the "best" stories in each category.  The trouble is that every single person's definition of "best" is different from every other.  The best one can do is a popular vote, which is by no means definitive.

I appreciate that Escape Pod runs the ones they can every year, because I often don't go hunt the stories down otherwise.
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« Reply #54 on: July 06, 2011, 11:25:03 AM »


1. I've found over the past few years that the Hugo stories are generally polarizing on the forums. Especially last year and this year. It may be because we're expecting more.

2. Just because it's award-nominated doesn't mean it's (a) good (b) one of the five best stories in its category (c) something you'll like.

I've tried not to let this bother me. No one on Escape Artists chooses these, they don't deserve any grief, and if that's what the Hugo voters choose, *shrug*. I'm not a Hugo voter. I don't nominate them.

I'm just glad that Escape Pod podcasts them for me to hear. I genuinely appreciate the opportunity to listen. Thanks.
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« Reply #55 on: July 07, 2011, 10:58:29 AM »

I wish I listened to this before I read Avries. I think I would've liked it a lot more. Not that I didn't like this one, but I thought it was just okay...as opposed to after hearing Avries, I sat in my chair at work with my mouth dropped open the entire time. Could not work at all, I was that floored by it.

This one was pretty predictable. Okay writing, but not really memorable.
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« Reply #56 on: July 09, 2011, 03:06:51 PM »

Coming back to a slightly ageing thread here. But just ran across this interesting discussion on the concept of freedom and individualism.

http://savageminds.org/2011/07/08/the-anthropology-of-freedom-part-2/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+savageminds+%28Savage+Minds%3A+Notes+and+Queries+in+Anthropology+%3F+A+Group+Blog%29
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« Reply #57 on: July 12, 2011, 11:19:42 AM »

Amaryllis: didn't love it, didn't hate it.

I'm going to nit-pic on a particular point that i don't think anyone has mentioned.

Apparently this society is all about "maintaining", not growing.  We are also told that pregnancy is extremely rare, so much so that Nina probably hadn't seen more than one pregnant woman in the last decade or so.

So either:
    1) There is some sort of immortality serum that wasn't mentioned, or
    2) There are massive amounts of immigrants not mentioned (which doesn't mesh with the portrayal of a very stable, hide-bound society, or
    3) The laws of math are different in this story's universe

Because in this universe you need each woman to have (on average) 2 children to maintain a population, plus whatever it takes to cover accidental death and disease.  The society described in this story would be basically extinct in the space of a human life-span, unless it changes.


It is surprising how often science fiction flubs this pretty basic understanding of population, obviously their attention was on other things.  But science-fiction writers of the future, please take note!

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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #58 on: July 12, 2011, 11:44:13 AM »

Amaryllis: didn't love it, didn't hate it.

I'm going to nit-pic on a particular point that i don't think anyone has mentioned.

Apparently this society is all about "maintaining", not growing.  We are also told that pregnancy is extremely rare, so much so that Nina probably hadn't seen more than one pregnant woman in the last decade or so.

So either:
    1) There is some sort of immortality serum that wasn't mentioned, or
    2) There are massive amounts of immigrants not mentioned (which doesn't mesh with the portrayal of a very stable, hide-bound society, or
    3) The laws of math are different in this story's universe

Because in this universe you need each woman to have (on average) 2 children to maintain a population, plus whatever it takes to cover accidental death and disease.  The society described in this story would be basically extinct in the space of a human life-span, unless it changes.


It is surprising how often science fiction flubs this pretty basic understanding of population, obviously their attention was on other things.  But science-fiction writers of the future, please take note!



If resources aren't scarce. I think that's the point of this story. This is a society that seems to be living on the sharp edge of possible starvation and resource - food - collapse. Tip the balance with too high a population and everybody starves. If they have a population of, say, 100,000 but only have enough to feed 90,000 in the long term, then the population needs to shrink.


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Gamercow
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« Reply #59 on: July 12, 2011, 02:24:57 PM »

Amaryllis: didn't love it, didn't hate it.

I'm going to nit-pic on a particular point that i don't think anyone has mentioned.

Apparently this society is all about "maintaining", not growing.  We are also told that pregnancy is extremely rare, so much so that Nina probably hadn't seen more than one pregnant woman in the last decade or so.

So either:
    1) There is some sort of immortality serum that wasn't mentioned, or
    2) There are massive amounts of immigrants not mentioned (which doesn't mesh with the portrayal of a very stable, hide-bound society, or
    3) The laws of math are different in this story's universe

Because in this universe you need each woman to have (on average) 2 children to maintain a population, plus whatever it takes to cover accidental death and disease.  The society described in this story would be basically extinct in the space of a human life-span, unless it changes.


It is surprising how often science fiction flubs this pretty basic understanding of population, obviously their attention was on other things.  But science-fiction writers of the future, please take note!



If resources aren't scarce. I think that's the point of this story. This is a society that seems to be living on the sharp edge of possible starvation and resource - food - collapse. Tip the balance with too high a population and everybody starves. If they have a population of, say, 100,000 but only have enough to feed 90,000 in the long term, then the population needs to shrink.




Really, we're currently at this situation in our current global situation.  Millions of people starving.  If something happened like most sea life perishing, that number could easily push into the billions.

Society in this story has basically collapsed due to some cataclysm, because you don't go from our current economy to a self-sufficient trade based economy without something massive breaking. 
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