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Author Topic: EP690/EP298: The Things (Flashback Friday)  (Read 39252 times)

DKT

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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  :)


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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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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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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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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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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.



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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).

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Reply #40 on: July 04, 2011, 05:18:20 AM
Okay, I am very surprised by the discussion here. My reaction seems to be completely different from the norm.

First, I didn't mind the derivative/fanfic aspect, except for the fact that it made the story completely incomprehensible for me (never seen The Thing). That to me is a big flaw. Even authors of original work make sure that a new reader can follow along in the nth book if they haven't read the (n-1) earlier books. The fact that this one didn't is a big fail for me.

Secondly, I really did not like the writing style in this story.  For me, it had this quality that tries to scream "Look at me, I am being deep and profound", but all it ends up doing is saying "I'm being pompous!" That aspect in particular, made the story tedious and not enjoyable for me.



matweller

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Reply #41 on: July 04, 2011, 02:55:37 PM
This story made me want to rent Carpenter's film again. Haven't seen it for yonks.
It's on Netflix streaming right now. I...erm..."listened" to it at work the other day to prepare for my upcoming role.



kibitzer

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Reply #42 on: July 05, 2011, 02:35:42 AM
This story made me want to rent Carpenter's film again. Haven't seen it for yonks.
It's on Netflix streaming right now. I...erm..."listened" to it at work the other day to prepare for my upcoming role.

Role as... an amorphous blob?


matweller

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Reply #43 on: July 05, 2011, 02:46:19 AM
No, that would be my reality...I'll be Childs in an upcoming audio drama adaptation.

http://matweller.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/a-new-gig-with-a-flamethrower/

Sorry, I mentioned it in an earlier post in this thread. I promise it's not all ego, I'm just really excited to be in a project like this.



Listener

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Reply #44 on: July 06, 2011, 01:12:19 AM
This story made me want to rent Carpenter's film again. Haven't seen it for yonks.
It's on Netflix streaming right now. I...erm..."listened" to it at work the other day to prepare for my upcoming role.

My coworker does that all the time. Lucky for him, his desk is in the far back corner of the floor, and you can't see his screen even when you walk down the hallway to speak to him.

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kibitzer

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Reply #45 on: July 06, 2011, 02:53:47 AM
No, that would be my reality...I'll be Childs in an upcoming audio drama adaptation.

http://matweller.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/a-new-gig-with-a-flamethrower/

Sorry, I mentioned it in an earlier post in this thread. I promise it's not all ego, I'm just really excited to be in a project like this.

I missed the earlier post, sorry. Wow. That sounds freakin' awesome, man, major gratz! Might have to pick your brains about how one finds these auditions...


Kaa

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Reply #46 on: July 07, 2011, 06:49:38 PM
I was prepared to hate this. I started listening, and couldn't wait for the narrative to stop and for it to get to the meat of the story. Some action. Some dialogue. And then...I realized what it was. What I was listening to.

I listened to it completely entranced from that point on. It's been ages since I saw the movie, but I really like the idea of this story told from the viewpoint of the "bad guy."

I don't agree at all with those dismissing this as "derivative" or "fanfic," myself. I think of it--if anything along those lines--as more of an homage.

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Reply #47 on: July 07, 2011, 07:39:33 PM
Most of this was background noise to me. Never saw the Thing. Might, but this story didn't give me a burning drive to watch it. Writing was interesting, though, and that last line....huh. Strong and heavy. I gleaned its impact from the story, but I bet if I seen the movie, it would've left me flabbergasted and raw.

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Reply #48 on: July 08, 2011, 04:06:37 AM
This is my first EscapePod story and I think I kind of liked it--or maybe not really. I'm not sure to be honest. Perhaps it's safest to say that I like parts of it, but other parts bored me. I must say that Kate compelled me to keep listening. The last line was like a punch to the face. I also liked the comparision of the human brain to being 'a cancer'.

Never saw 'the thing' but after reading this discussion, I sort of want to now to at least get a better perspective of the story.

Or maybe not.

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kibitzer

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Reply #49 on: July 08, 2011, 06:49:46 AM
This is my first EscapePod story and I think I kind of liked it--or maybe not really. I'm not sure to be honest. Perhaps it's safest to say that I like parts of it, but other parts bored me. I must say that Kate compelled me to keep listening. The last line was like a punch to the face. I also liked the comparision of the human brain to being 'a cancer'.

Never saw 'the thing' but after reading this discussion, I sort of want to now to at least get a better perspective of the story.

Or maybe not.

...as long as you're sure ;-) ;-)