Author Topic: EP690/EP298: The Things (Flashback Friday)  (Read 33361 times)

InfiniteMonkey

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2011, 06:22:20 AM »
I apologize.

How about "Peter Watts is not to my taste, personally"?

eytanz

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2011, 07:30:21 AM »
That's always fine :)

Devoted135

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2011, 01:51:19 PM »
I think this might be one of those times when ignorance really is bliss. I frighten easily so actively avoid all things horror or generally scary (me over the weekend: why no husband, I will not watch Mirrormask with you). Thus, I have only vague knowledge of the fact that a movie called the Thing exists and that it's a classic and that familiarity with this movie might up my appreciation of the story (I went back, and that last is basically how Norm introduced the connection in his intro).

So, I approached it as a free-standing story and enjoyed it as such, to the extent that I listened to it twice in a row to more closely watch the narrator slowly realize the truth about these so-called biomasses. I thought it was subtly done and that her horror (for some reason the alien was a "her" in my head) upon each new revelation was well written.

ElectricPaladin

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #23 on: June 27, 2011, 05:16:50 PM »
I enjoyed the "alternate take on a classic story" angle, but I have to say that I think it went on a little too long. The fact is that I don't remember nearly enough of The Thing or Who Goes There for most of this story to really gel. I did appreciate the fact that to the thing, we are the monsters, and it was amusing to see its actions reinterpreted as its misguided (?) attempt to save us from our own "disability." I wouldn't vote for this to win a Hugo, but I can see why it was nominated and enjoyed hearing it. As I said, though, I felt that it was too long and too detailed to work unless I had absorbed one of the originals shortly prior.

The reading, by the way? Pure genius. Let us hear more of her, please.
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InfiniteMonkey

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #24 on: June 27, 2011, 05:48:15 PM »
I enjoyed the "alternate take on a classic story" angle, but I have to say that I think it went on a little too long. The fact is that I don't remember nearly enough of The Thing or Who Goes There for most of this story to really gel. I did appreciate the fact that to the thing, we are the monsters, and it was amusing to see its actions reinterpreted as its misguided (?) attempt to save us from our own "disability." I wouldn't vote for this to win a Hugo, but I can see why it was nominated and enjoyed hearing it. As I said, though, I felt that it was too long and too detailed to work unless I had absorbed one of the originals shortly prior.

The reading, by the way? Pure genius. Let us hear more of her, please.

Who Goes There is actually a really short story, and ends very differently from either movie (yeah, the end of Carpenter's has long been spoiled for me). I think perhaps this story's length has as much to do with it following the length of the Carpenter movie as anything. Who Goes There probably would barely be 90 mins. if filmed.

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #25 on: June 27, 2011, 06:29:29 PM »
The reading, by the way? Pure genius. Let us hear more of her, please.

Are you listening to the Clarkesworld podcast? Kate Baker (who also read Spar and Non-Zero Probabilities from last year's Hugo batch) narrates there regularly. (She's narrated several other stories at EP, as well.)

I agree, she's a fantastic reader  :)

Equalizer

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #26 on: June 28, 2011, 02:41:57 AM »
I liked this one a lot. I agree that the narrative was a little "all over the place" spanning between a pack of dogs and the 2 different camps of humans. Giving this more thought, I concluded that it would be hard to write a less confusing story when the narrator exists and thinks on the cellular level, especially when the character switches from first to third almost seamlessly.

I remember watching the old Hawks version of this story when I was a kid and never really thinking about it more than just a fun sci-fi action movie. While I haven't seen the Carpenter version yet (I so totally will now), the parasite in this story reminds me of the Erythro sentience in Nemesis by Asimov. Especially when the parasite discussed being entire worlds and also when I realized the protagonist lived and communicated with itself through microbial cells. Unfortunately, the parasite in this story doesn't talk directly to its victims, which could have made for some interesting dialogue. Anyway, thanks for raping another great Hugo nominee into my brain, EP. Much appreciated!
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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #27 on: June 28, 2011, 05:49:32 AM »
     This was a fantastic story. I've listened to many episodes of Escape Pod, as well as Pseudopod and PodCastle, and while I enjoy most of them, this is only the second that I found worth commenting on. Having seen "The Thing" definitely helps this unofficial sequel make sense, and while I can see where many of the commenters found the storytelling fractured, I agree with those who argue that since the Entity itself is fractured (in fact, the way it divides and sacrifices itself is one of the main plot points), it makes sense within the story's context. I would love to see more stories told (well) from the "monsters" point of view, especially an iconic character like Darth Vader. Keep 'em coming!
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Unblinking

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #28 on: June 28, 2011, 01:50:49 PM »
I really enjoyed this one.  This, combined with "For Want of a Nail" make this a record year for me to actually like two of the stories, and consider them worthy of the nom.  (I still haven't heard one of them yet)

The "fanfic" label never really occurred to me.  This had something to do with the face that I've never seen the movie.  It seemed somewhat familiar, a horror story in the Antarctic station, and I Googled it later to find it out.  But in any case, there was so much invention done for this story to give the Thing a fleshed out perspective that, even being aware of the source material, I didn't have a problem with that.  The perspective was so well done that I really felt like I understood the well-meaning reasons behind the horrible things the creature does, and I was sort of rooting on this creature that could quickly overtake all of our world's organisms.

Regarding the label of "fanfic", I guess I use a more narrow definition than many of you.  To me, "fanfic" is one of those terms that's always derogatory.  Generally what I call "fanfic" is unofficial, probably anonymously posted to someone's blog or fan site, certainly not professionally published.  "Slash" fiction or whatever you call it where someone writes about their favorite characters all having sex with each other, is generally the sort of thing when I think of "fanfic", not well-written and extremely imaginative stuff published at award winning magazines like this.  To me, I find the moniker insulting, perhaps because by the broader definition I've sold fanfic as well.

I'd certainly not call it plagiarism either, as all the words are Watts's own.  I assume Watts got explicit permission to publish this story, else I can see how it would be called copyright infringement.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2011, 01:52:35 PM by Unblinking »

Talia

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #29 on: June 29, 2011, 02:03:43 AM »
I have to admit that generally Watts' writing style doesn't appeal to me. Thus, I was particularly surprised when I found this one growing on me, and was deeply chilled by the ending. A masterful study of a completely alien mindset.

I'd shy away from the label of fanfic myself, because in my mind "fanfic" = "amateur", which is something this story most assuredly is not. Perhaps that's a misperception, but if so, it's a common one I think.

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #30 on: June 29, 2011, 06:15:58 PM »
I'd shy away from the label of fanfic myself, because in my mind "fanfic" = "amateur", which is something this story most assuredly is not. Perhaps that's a misperception, but if so, it's a common one I think.

That's how I view the term "fanfic" too.

InfiniteMonkey

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #31 on: June 30, 2011, 04:58:17 PM »
I'd shy away from the label of fanfic myself, because in my mind "fanfic" = "amateur", which is something this story most assuredly is not. Perhaps that's a misperception, but if so, it's a common one I think.

That's how I view the term "fanfic" too.

I would also add that, IMHO, "fanfic" usually tries - tries, mind you, not necessarily succeeds - to be the voice of what it's derived from. This is mostly certainly NOT the case here; this is very clearly a Watts story in Watts' voice.

Oh, and BTW, for those of you who liked this story, well, don't take my critical judgement as a guide, fer Gawd's sake! I would invite you to go to the author's website, Rifters.com, http://www.rifters.com/index.htm. Why? Well, because if you liked this story, four whole novels of his are available there in Creative Commons (just like Escape Pod).

Just be warned : This Is a Dark Ride.


Listener

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #32 on: June 30, 2011, 06:11:14 PM »
I've never seen The Thing, so if Norm hadn't mentioned it I wouldn't even know it was a retelling or whatever we're calling it.

My opinion of the story is: for the first 20 minutes, nothing happened except a lot of whining about biomass (seriously, could that word have been used any more times?). For the next 25, stuff happened. Then there was a really long denouement that could've been cut off about 60 seconds sooner. Plus, I don't think the story really explored the concept of "alien who is connected to its environment is flabbergasted that humans are discrete creatures" any better than any other pro- or semi-pro published story in the genre. The only things that set it apart were the author and the The Thing elements.

The reading fit the mood of the piece. I just didn't like the piece very much. I'm not quite sure what makes it better than other stories and therefore led to its Hugo nomination. The writing was good, but the story was really, really boring.

Having written and sold a similar story (although where this one uses The Thing, I did Super Mario Bros), the "fanfic vs homage" topic was very interesting to me to read. Henry Jenkins, an expert on fanfiction and participatory culture, has said that fanfic exists to correct a perceived wrong in something the author did (for example, SPOILER Harry Potter not dying at the end of Deathly Hallows END SPOILER).
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Unblinking

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #33 on: July 01, 2011, 04:15:45 PM »
Having written and sold a similar story (although where this one uses The Thing, I did Super Mario Bros), the "fanfic vs homage" topic was very interesting to me to read. Henry Jenkins, an expert on fanfiction and participatory culture, has said that fanfic exists to correct a perceived wrong in something the author did (for example, SPOILER Harry Potter not dying at the end of Deathly Hallows END SPOILER).

That's interesting!  I've never heard that definition before.  Of the story I've sold that might be called fanfic, I might say that's true, imagining what Dorothy's journey would've been like if the Tin Man had been truly heartless as he was supposed to be instead of just mopey.

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #34 on: July 01, 2011, 11:21:59 PM »
Of the story I've sold that might be called fanfic, I might say that's true, imagining what Dorothy's journey would've been like if the Tin Man had been truly heartless as he was supposed to be instead of just mopey.

Schaffer the Darklord has his own version of that story too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFgKefdOkLA
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stePH

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #35 on: July 01, 2011, 11:22:53 PM »
This story made me want to rent Carpenter's film again. Haven't seen it for yonks.
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kibitzer

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #36 on: July 03, 2011, 09:00:34 AM »
Are you listening to the Clarkesworld podcast? Kate Baker (who also read Spar and Non-Zero Probabilities from last year's Hugo batch) narrates there regularly. (She's narrated several other stories at EP, as well.)

I agree, she's a fantastic reader  :)

Is she not the only reader? She was when I stopped listening some time ago.

kibitzer

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #37 on: July 03, 2011, 09:02:59 AM »
This story made me want to rent Carpenter's film again. Haven't seen it for yonks.

OK, now that's a good effect!

Personally, I found this tale a little dull. And it also made me want to see Snake Plissen take down the Arctic. :-) Again.

olivaw

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #38 on: July 03, 2011, 04:26:23 PM »
Having only a dim memory of the Carpenter movie, I enjoyed trying to piece together the various bits of the story from the 'wrong' perspective.
Not sure I managed it; it was tricky to keep track of who knew what, who believed what, who was really part of what, even when told from the near-omniscient perspective of the narrator. I found the various characters fairly indistinguishable cyphers, but I'm not sure how much of that was down to the original story, how much a deliberate part of the twisted perspective of the narrator, and how much a failing of the narrative.

Loved the concept, but like others I think it could have been shorter.

stePH

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Re: EP298: The Things
« Reply #39 on: July 03, 2011, 06:50:55 PM »
Another thing this story reminded me of was a single-page story in an old issue of Heavy Metal; it was called "The It, or Who Glows There?"

The first panel has one of the Antarctic base team telling the other guys that the alien can impersonate any life form.
In the second panel, MacReady says "you mean like this...?"
Next couple of panels, MacReady's head is morphing into different shapes as he says "...a pig, or..."
Final panel, everybody in view is laughing as the first guy admonishes: "MacReady, quit clowning! I said this was SERIOUS!"
2nd man: "Say 'impersonate' and Mac goes into his act."
3rd man: "Get him to do Haig with constipation!"
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