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Author Topic: EP300: We go back  (Read 12250 times)
eytanz
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« on: July 08, 2011, 10:50:32 AM »

EP300: We go back

By Tim Pratt
Read by Mur Lafferty

An Escape Pod original!

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My best friend Jenny Kay climbed in through my window and nearly stepped on my head. If I’d been sleeping a foot closer to the wall, I would’ve gotten a face full of her boot, but instead I just snapped awake and said “What who what now?” and blinked a lot.

“Oh damn,” Jenny said in a loudish whisper. “When did you move your bed under the window?”

“Last week,” I said, sitting up in bed. “I wanted a change.” If you can’t rearrange your life, you can at least rearrange yourself, and if your mom won’t let you dye your hair blue, you can make do with rearranging your rooms.

Jenny Kay dropped from standing to sitting in one motion, making my mattress bounce, and landed cross-legged and totally comfortable. “Hey,” she said. “So I need to borrow your ring.” I couldn’t read her expression in the dim moonlight from the window.

I looked at my right hand, where a thin silver ring looped my index finger, catching what light there was in the room and giving back twinkles. The metal grew cold against my skin and tightened a fraction, almost a friendly little squeeze. The ring — which wasn’t really a ring — could tell when I was thinking about it. “Uh,” I said.

Jenny nodded vigorously, a motion I felt in the jostling of the mattress more than I saw. “I know! I know. But I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important. I mean, you’ve had the thing for more than a year, and I’ve never asked once if I could use it, right?”

I glanced at my closed door — no glow under the crack at the bottom, which meant my parents had gone to their separate beds and turned out the hall light — and switched on my bedside lamp. Jenny was dressed in jeans and a sweater, all in dark grays and blacks, not her usual aggressively flamboyant colorful mishmash style at all. Good for sneaking into people’s windows, I guessed.

I sat up against the headboard, because when you’re about to annoy your best friend, it’s better not to be flat on your back at the time. “I wish I could,” I said — not one hundred percent true, but Jenny was a fourteen-year-old genius, not a human lie detector. “But it’s, like… part of me. You know? I’m part of the mechanism. I can’t just take it off. It’s linked into my, what’s it called, socratic nervous system?”

“Somatic,” Jenny said gloomily. She was almost as good at biology as she was at math. “The part of your nervous system that controls movement, which sort of halfway makes sense, I guess.”

I shrugged. “So, there you go. The ring’s not something I wear. It’s something that wears me. Or we wear each other. What did you want it for?”


Rated appropriate for  younger teens and up – occasional adult language.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Chuk
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2011, 02:29:48 PM »

Loved it! Nice ending.

(It has minor spoilers for _The Nex_ but you don't need to have read _The Nex_ to follow "We Go Back". I think it will probably have more impact if you do. Or if you have teenage daughters (or other teenage relatives).)
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2011, 03:15:12 PM »

LOVED this story. Based off of that xkcd comic, right? Just wondering...

Really loved the whole thing. How real life lines up with the post-fantasy, Jenny's reasons for doing what she did, and the ending. Awesome.
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munin81
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2011, 05:35:38 PM »

I loved the story! Wonderful as always.

Also, Socrates! Sōkrátēs
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Spindaddy
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« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2011, 06:41:25 PM »

Great Job with the narrating! I was enthralled by it.

I found the story very fun as well. I had hoped that JK was going to end up in the Lex, but I was quite surprised that Randy gave up the ring. I doubt I could have given up that kind of power.
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Gamercow
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2011, 06:43:42 PM »

I really liked the theme of Mur's intro and outro, as well as the story itself.  First, the story.  Like many Tim Pratt stories, the logic falls apart if you tug at the seams a bit, but it really doesn't matter because the storytelling is so damn good, and the characters so damn fleshed out.  I loved Mur's "voices", even the two teenage girls were distinct, but her voice for the cyborg was absolutely outstanding, the deadpan semi-robotic delivery was amazing.  The plot was new, to me, and gave a good insight into the "what happens after the hero goes home?" problem.  For most of the story, I didn't understand why on earth the MC came back, but as it went on, I got to understand that, beyond her typical teenager "OMG, my life is the WORST[flop on bed]" logic, she really was just done with adventure for a bit.  

As for the intro and outro.  I may have been reading into it a bit, but they, along with the choice of the story, were Mur saying "This is our baby now, with our touch, our flavor"; she really seemed to take ownership of EscapePod, while at the same time giving a sense of community that I think Steve never really had.  Much of the theme was looking forward, rather than looking back.  But I could be looking too deep into things.

Munin81(and any others who missed the reference), the Socrates mispronunciation was intentional, and a reference to "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure", a story of two time travelling dimwits who go back in time to finish a history report, and in the process, meet Socrates, and pronounce his name as Mur did.
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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2011, 09:28:59 PM »

After reading this story, I have to say I think it was good, but I am a little mad at Escape Pod.  While I think there is a lot of GREAT YA fiction out there...that isn't why I subscribe to Escape Pod.  

By and large I don't find YA fiction to be very rewarding for me because it TENDS to fall into a lot of tropes and things that no longer seem new or novel to my aged self (though I am only 24 Tongue).  When I realized the story focused on two adolescent girls with broken homes and various issues, I thought to myself, "oh geez, one or both of them are going to turn out to be lesbians, aren't they."  I was disappointed to find that this was in fact the way things went.  While I agree with the validity of this plot choice for THIS story, it still felt like a predictable turn because I've kind of read other things like this.

So for all that, I think this was not a great editorial choice, even if it was a good story.

The one gripe I have with the story itself was the whole bit about how she got the ring.  In hindsight, I can see how this was a tiny bite from a larger novel world, but while I was listening to the story with no knowledge of the previous work, I kept thinking, "ok, this isn't a story as much as a novel pitch."  It is completely possible to encapsulate a previous story or universe in a short story (see, "The Blab," by Vernor Vinge, which does a great job of bundling up the Zones of Thought universe), but I didn't think "We Go Back" did a fantastic job.

For all my negatives, I will say that I found the writing really engaging and listened to the story in spite of my disinterest in the content.  I did find the ending clever, if a bit contrived.

I seem to be the only non-fan of the story to post thus far, so I hope this post will encourage other, more cogently-worded comments.
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NoNotRogov
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« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2011, 02:33:07 PM »


The Bad (or Not So Good) -
A lot of the story is main character monologuing. I don't mind "As You Know, Bob" sequences at all, and the recap of her past adventures were part of the meat of the story, but this wasn't even an in-universe explanation, it was an outside narration to the audience. No framing device that even monologue happy writers like Lovecraft would use (such as a letter), no "as you know, Jenny" sequence to make it dialogue. Just monologuing that is not even framed as the character standing and thinking and remembering her past adventures. It's just a direct out of story moment, pure narration.

The character conflict with Jenny doesn't really build up, more comes out of nowhere and is then almost immediately handwaved away. Thus the central conflict of the story is present for like thirty seconds of read time.

The Good -
The monologue is interesting and encapsulates a past adventure pretty well, and introduces the cyborg character who is important to the conclusion of the story.

While the conflict and pacing are off, the theme of the story - "what does a teenager do with superpowers/what does a teenager do after returning from a magical adventure in another world" was solid as adamantium.

Jenny's corporate espionage and dark net stuff, and general kid genius character, are pretty entertaining from a cyberpunk fan perspective and give the story a little bit of an edge that the main character's ambivalence to her own life problems and the quick resolution of their interpersonal conflict do not.

The climax and conclusion of the story are great - I really like the probably unintended aesop of the protagonist being willing to give up her power to help her friend resulting in having a cooler power and getting to have adventures with her friend rather than alone and scared in alien universes and strange locales. Friends with strange powers traveling around the world getting into adventures is a genre I, as an enthusiast of tabletop and video roleplaying games, am quite fond of.

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Thunderscreech
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2011, 06:09:50 PM »

I loved it.  It entertained me, it forced me to reevaluate my assumptions (I boggled at the 3x use in 18 months bit, then grudgingly acknowledged the real constraints of being a teen), and it made me need to relate to a mode of thinking that was alien to me.  Giving up so much power for a friend who had just taken advantage of me, AND giving them the ring instead of just lending them help...  The teenager mind was one of the most alien I've ever run into on Escape Pod.
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motoyugota
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« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2011, 09:12:10 PM »

LOVED this story. Based off of that xkcd comic, right? Just wondering...

Really loved the whole thing. How real life lines up with the post-fantasy, Jenny's reasons for doing what she did, and the ending. Awesome.

That comic is from 2010. If you check out Tim's site for The Nex, you'll see he wrote the novel that this is a pseudo-sequel to in 2008. So maybe the other way around, but the story couldn't be based on the comic, unless of course Tim has that bracelet that can travel through time.
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motoyugota
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« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2011, 09:18:44 PM »

I thought this was a great story. The characters definitely act like real teenage girls in every way. This was just a fun piece of science fiction. No deep meaning to it, but guess what? Not every story needs to have deep meaning that takes five times longer to analyze than it does to listen to. In fact, I'm sure I'm not alone in preferring "fun" stories without the super-philosophical bent.
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motoyugota
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« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2011, 09:24:02 PM »


The Bad (or Not So Good) -
A lot of the story is main character monologuing. I don't mind "As You Know, Bob" sequences at all, and the recap of her past adventures were part of the meat of the story, but this wasn't even an in-universe explanation, it was an outside narration to the audience. No framing device that even monologue happy writers like Lovecraft would use (such as a letter), no "as you know, Jenny" sequence to make it dialogue. Just monologuing that is not even framed as the character standing and thinking and remembering her past adventures. It's just a direct out of story moment, pure narration.

The character conflict with Jenny doesn't really build up, more comes out of nowhere and is then almost immediately handwaved away. Thus the central conflict of the story is present for like thirty seconds of read time.

The Good -
The monologue is interesting and encapsulates a past adventure pretty well, and introduces the cyborg character who is important to the conclusion of the story.

While the conflict and pacing are off, the theme of the story - "what does a teenager do with superpowers/what does a teenager do after returning from a magical adventure in another world" was solid as adamantium.

Jenny's corporate espionage and dark net stuff, and general kid genius character, are pretty entertaining from a cyberpunk fan perspective and give the story a little bit of an edge that the main character's ambivalence to her own life problems and the quick resolution of their interpersonal conflict do not.

The climax and conclusion of the story are great - I really like the probably unintended aesop of the protagonist being willing to give up her power to help her friend resulting in having a cooler power and getting to have adventures with her friend rather than alone and scared in alien universes and strange locales. Friends with strange powers traveling around the world getting into adventures is a genre I, as an enthusiast of tabletop and video roleplaying games, am quite fond of.



I didn't get what you got here - the whole story was a monologue. I don't remember hearing anything that wasn't coming from that viewpoint, so I'm not sure why it needs any sort of framing.

And as for the conflict coming out of nowhere and getting handled almost as quickly - I'm guessing you don't spend a lot of time around teenage girls. This is exactly how teenage girls act. Jenny let it all build up until Randy got mad at her once and then used that as a reason to go off on her. As for the quick resolution, well, we don't really know how quick the resolution was. It could have been days, weeks or even months before Randy decided to give Jenny the ring. But that intervening time is in no way central to the story, so why spend time on it?
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« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2011, 11:40:34 PM »

There's first-person perspective, which involves a character telling you what happened in their voice, and then there's monologues, in which characters step out of the story to make an aside directly to the audience.  When referring to the summarization of the novel that preceded this story, it is fair to call that a "monologue," albeit not strictly accurate (any more than one physically impacts an actual wall when someone else "stonewalls" you in conversation.)
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NoNotRogov
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« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2011, 11:06:14 AM »


I didn't get what you got here - the whole story was a monologue. I don't remember hearing anything that wasn't coming from that viewpoint, so I'm not sure why it needs any sort of framing.

And as for the conflict coming out of nowhere and getting handled almost as quickly - I'm guessing you don't spend a lot of time around teenage girls. This is exactly how teenage girls act. Jenny let it all build up until Randy got mad at her once and then used that as a reason to go off on her. As for the quick resolution, well, we don't really know how quick the resolution was. It could have been days, weeks or even months before Randy decided to give Jenny the ring. But that intervening time is in no way central to the story, so why spend time on it?


Aren't you being a bit literal/technical in your use of narration? "We ran through the halls as the cyber-ravens laughed" is a very different creature from what a lot of this story consisted of: "You would think with powers I wouldn't have teenage angst, but man I do! After all if you had powers but still had blank blank complications, wouldn't you be angsty to?"

And, pokes at angst aside, I enjoyed the subject matter - it's just it was not a first person past tense recount of events half of the time, it was the character having idle chat with the audience through the Fourth Wall.

That is why a framing device, even just the character pausing and thinking about that stuff rather than it just being jarringly inserted into the story, could have improved it.

As for teenagers, you may have a point there but that's not the one I contested; it detracts from the story a bit and is - again - jarring. The fact that it is perhaps accurate to teenage behavior, or the stereotype of teenagers, was not a factor I considered relevant to my aesthetic analysis of the story. The plausibility such a portrayal perhaps gained for the tale was not worth defusing the conflict so quickly. The story is cool, has good characterization and cool ideas in a short amount of time, but is rather haphazardly put together in terms of situation, conflict, resolution. It could have very easily been rejected from professional venues on those grounds. It is not a bad story, I think it is a good story, but trading one thing for another is still a trade.

This story trades internal structure for rule of cool, which I'm fine with. If ever story were that way, it would be frustrating, but there's nothing wrong with a fish every now and then even when you are expecting a bird. But that doesn't change the fact that it is a fish.

This story has weak dramatic structure in the area of conflict and resolution. That's my opinion, but I don't know why you find it so controversial. Cleverness in other areas, while in my opinion a worthy trade off that works for this story, doesn't change the weak points that this story has. Like everything it has edges and flaws, and denoting which we each think is which is quite relevant discussion material I would think.
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« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2011, 01:07:05 PM »

Fantastic Tim Pratt story!  The evil religious parents schtick ran a little thick (because religious=evil in most spec fic), but the relationship between the two girls and their different viewpoints made for good storytelling. 

You know, I haven't read The Nex, and it didn't even don on me until hearing this story that The Nex was based on the world of Nexington-on-Axis from Tim's short story "Dream Engine", which is my favorite Tim Pratt story of all time (so much in fact that I will be podcasting it myself on the Journey Into... podcast in September).  Yeah, sometimes it takes a boot to the head for me to put together some connections, but now that I know, I must go buy The Nex.  (No this is not a paid commerecial or spam).  Coincidences are way cool sometimes.

This story on its own was a great story, but the connections to the Nexington-on-Axis world made it all the more enjoyable for me.
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olivaw
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« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2011, 01:29:39 PM »

I'd disagree that the central conflict was the argument with Jenny.

The central conflict was the protagonist trying to decide what to do with her life, now she had this fabulous power. That's what all the monologuing is about; the business with the robbery was an anecdote which described one of the key events that helped her make her decision. Admittedly, the story is structured to make it look like the main event, but that's a red herring.

And her decision is portrayed as an 'easy-come, easy-go' solution with fairly low stakes; but as readers/listeners, we might well think the stakes are higher than the narrator realises. Will she spend the rest of her life regretting what she lost? Will Jenny Kay turn out to be a sociopath who wreaks havoc with her ring? That's why the coda where she comes back to renew her friendship is so important.
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acpracht
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« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2011, 02:11:29 PM »

A pretty good story by one of my favorite autors with regular appearance on Escape Pod. I enjoy how the awesomeness and power of the ring is tempered and limited by nothing so much as everyday life and family connections and expectations. I remember laughing during the description of how the protagonist came by the ring and thinking, "Man, I want to hear that story..." I'm pleased to know that I can.

On any other episode number, it would have gotten a thumbs up and a bravo.

On any other episode number, not number 300...

Sorry, Mur, but you made a mistake in breaking with tradition here and not going with a classic masterpiece. I'd been so looking forward to another one at 300 that a contemporary, albeit talented, author was a big letdown. I think it's important at the big milestones to go back to something classic and well-loved. It keeps us connected with our roots and appreciate more where the modern stories are coming from.

Oh, well, I'll just have to wait for 400, right? Smiley
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Ocicat
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« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2011, 04:53:36 PM »

I do find it interesting that the "new" EP team went with a modern story, after the last editor ran two classics for the milestone.  On the other hand, the "new" Podcastle team choose to run a classic recently for no particular milestone, after the old editors ran a modern story for 100.
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Sparrow
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« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2011, 08:06:28 PM »

Dear lord. Could Tim Pratt get any more charming and lovely? How is this story sweet and hopeful while still being utterly exciting and riveting? How, Tim Pratt, how?
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« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2011, 09:51:47 PM »

I remember laughing during the description of how the protagonist came by the ring and thinking, "Man, I want to hear that story..." I'm pleased to know that I can.

This.  Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2011, 10:07:05 PM »

I couldn't really get into this one, but I think that's more a matter of my taste not gelling with the story more than anything else. I did enjoy Mur's reading, though.  Smiley
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Scatcatpdx
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« Reply #21 on: July 11, 2011, 11:33:23 PM »

OK the story was well done but the whole motivation of Jenny's friend and the coming out, at a way too young age, angle left a bad taste.
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« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2011, 02:54:43 AM »

OK the story was well done but the whole motivation of Jenny's friend and the coming out, at a way too young age, angle left a bad taste.

You didn't know whether you were attracted to boys or girls when you were fourteen?
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« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2011, 09:31:33 AM »

OK the story was well done but the whole motivation of Jenny's friend and the coming out, at a way too young age, angle left a bad taste.

One of my friends knew at 7 that he was gay. It took him a few years to admit it. Each person is different.
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« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2011, 09:33:14 AM »

This story was reasonably good, but it definitely felt like a novel add-on.  All the stuff I most want to hear about was in the exposition lump, and left the rest somewhat lackluster in comparison.  I am glad that I can pick up the novel, which sounds very fun, but the story didn't stand very well on it's own to me.  The ending pun was really really bad, and made me groan, but not in a good way.  I was a little bit disappointed that her friend didn't become a supervillain.

Far from my favorite Pratt story, but still not at all bad.

I do wish we'd had a classic SF story for the landmark though, I kind of like looking forward to those and trying to guess what might be grabbed from the annals of history.  This just felt like any other episode.
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« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2011, 09:35:21 AM »

I could not possibly have loved this story more, even if it had come to my house and personally cleaned out the cat litter and alphabetized my DVD collection. It's stories like this one that lured me into science fiction (and fantasy and horror) in the first place.

Bravo, Tim Pratt. Brava, Mur Lafferty.

Bravisse.
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« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2011, 11:08:01 AM »

OK the story was well done but the whole motivation of Jenny's friend and the coming out, at a way too young age, angle left a bad taste.

You didn't know whether you were attracted to boys or girls when you were fourteen?

The idea was fine for the story, but I would tend to lean towards it being too early as well.  But, then again, that's been my experience, raised in SmallTown USA.  And it's also my bent that 14 year olds have different things to worry about at that age instead of who you're attracted too.  However, I pine for days gone by, I imagine. :-/

Like everyone else, I really liked how the story ended.  I was only slightly surprised by it, and very pleased with it.  However, it leads me to the next question: So, when do we get the sequel? :-)
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« Reply #27 on: July 12, 2011, 11:13:23 AM »

And it's also my bent that 14 year olds have different things to worry about at that age instead of who you're attracted too.  

From my memory of being 14, 14 year olds think about little else besides who they're attracted to.   Puberty's in full swing by that time.  If anything, I'd say it's a little early rather than a little too late.  Tongue
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jenfullmoon
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« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2011, 11:19:56 AM »

Giving up so much power for a friend who had just taken advantage of me, AND giving them the ring instead of just lending them help...  The teenager mind was one of the most alien I've ever run into on Escape Pod.

I think it's the reason and the circumstances as to why Jenny did it that made Randy change her mind. Jenny is essentially afraid for her LIFE here. She's facing imminent Christian re-education lockup for at least the next four years of her life, and her parents are seeing through all of her boy talk. The girl's terrified. Once you find out that Jenny's not doing this so much to scam someone so much as she needs to figure out how she's going to escape and take care of herself at age 14... well, I'd do what Randy did too.

I knew I was straight at the age of 5, by the way. I didn't even know what to DO with boys, but I knew that. It does start early.

I think it's entirely reasonable that Tim Pratt had a time-travel bracelet to be inspired by that comic...
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2011, 11:35:16 AM »

I seem to be in the minority on this one. For me it was a solid "meh". Nothing much I really hated (but for one thing... don't worry, I'll get to that); certainly had no problem with the whole "lordy I'm queer and my parents will re-orient me!" motivation. Knew what I liked when I was 5, so 14's not too early in my book. And her parents aren't exactly evil. Just really closed-minded; though I see the desire to run.

But I found the gift of the ring to be a little much to swallow, as well as the protagonist's unwillingness to use the ring. I think it's the two together that sort of breaks the story for me. You can't make the case that this ridiculously generous gift is understandable from a teenage girl, but if that's the case, why was she so grown-up about not using the ring in the first place? And if she was grown about the perils of ring-use, then why hand it over to someone demonstrably even more reckless than she is? She has THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE to search through.. hell, multiverse - and she knew the territory. She could conceivably bring her back something just as useful but not as dangerous. A wand of mind control perhaps? "The cute girl I'm bringing home is really a cute boy, Mom and Dad... believe!"

However, the thing that really made me grit was the line about "but I'd help her bury the bodies"... I've simply heard that one times too many. I'm getting really tried of hearing repeated clever lines. I'm tired of repeated cleverness being a passport of Cool. Better to be clever on your own.  Of course, it all may be part of the whole "I'm a 14 year old girl" thing.

Not that I don't do it myself. As Jon Stewart says, "I'm old!"
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« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2011, 11:45:54 AM »

OK the story was well done but the whole motivation of Jenny's friend and the coming out, at a way too young age, angle left a bad taste.
You DO realize that 12-year-old pregnancies are pretty common these days, right? Are all of those preggo tweens not sure which gender attracts them? It's not like it's something to be decided anyway, it's just a fact of their genetic programming present from birth just like it is for every other species of animal on Earth.

I'm a little annoyed that people feel sexuality even has to be discussed since, in the terms of this story, it's only a device not some flagrant, out-of-place soapbox speech.

All that aside, I thought this story was gloriously fun and interesting and well-written and has me totally interested in finding the related tales. Mission accomplished, Mr. Pratt.
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« Reply #31 on: July 12, 2011, 06:22:23 PM »

It's fantastic that people are discovering their sexuality and who they are at a younger age, and that this gets reflected in YA. "Bored" with lesbian subtexts in YA? Gee, I wish some queer people could be quite so blase about representations of themselves in stories. I forgot where I read it recently, but the quote was along the lines of "if queer people were represented in fiction and media along the lines of our percentage of the population, it would be WAY more than it is now".

While it's still difficult to negotiate the roadblocks our society puts up, if young people have LESS crap to climb over than previous generations in regards to their sexuality, the better. And if that means not hushing up about queer issues when their young (won't someone think of the children!), cool.

I loved how this story flowed.
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« Reply #32 on: July 12, 2011, 06:57:31 PM »

On any other episode number, not number 300...

I'm afraid I'm with acpracth and InfiniteMonkey on this one.
Certainly Tim Pratt is a talented author (although I confess I am not really so very into him, certainly not as much as many other listeners here seem to be); and the story flowed well enough. But it just wasn't gripping.
Not in the way EP 100 and 200 were.
And not in the way I was hoping EP 300 might be.
I realise the above is really not germane to the story per se, and might just come across as gripe.
I feel most of those who have raised issues with the story per se reflect aspects of what I thought; the exception being the sexuality of the MC. It didn't get in my way one bit.

If I were to nitpick, one particularity that annoyed me was that bracelet at the end: as with the ring, its use and its rather strange marginalization by the MC, the almost consequential 'invention' of a time-travel bracelet threatens with taking the awe out of these artefacts. Hence attempting to focus our attention on...what, precisely? not the MC and her friend, whose interaction isn't really gripping. Anyway, like I said, that's just picking a nit, no more.
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« Reply #33 on: July 12, 2011, 11:16:25 PM »

So while I was at the book store today, I asked about purchasing The Nex.  Frustratingly, they couldn't find anything for it.  So I came home tonight and investigated it at timpratt.org.  Another "boot to the head" moment occurred when I learned (or was reminded) that The Nex is one of the novels that Tim has serialized for free online (though I am sure he would still take a donation).  So anyway, anyone who is interested in reading The Nex can do so here.
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« Reply #34 on: July 13, 2011, 01:16:56 AM »

OK the story was well done but the whole motivation of Jenny's friend and the coming out, at a way too young age, angle left a bad taste.

You didn't know whether you were attracted to boys or girls when you were fourteen?
nope growing up in the 1960's and early 1970's I was nether pressured one way or another. In addition could the problem is we are pushing sexuality on kids way to early for ulterior motives, Ohhow great we boomers are, we just can mess up our own generation.
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« Reply #35 on: July 13, 2011, 04:21:53 AM »

On any other episode number, not number 300...

I'm afraid I'm with acpracth and InfiniteMonkey on this one.

Me three.

I'm calling shaggy dog on this one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaggy_dog_story#Pun).  The moment the "we go back" pun was uncovered, the whole story fell into place as a build-up to it.

I agree with most of the positive feedback on characters, world building etc., but no way is this a X00 milestone story.
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« Reply #36 on: July 13, 2011, 08:35:33 AM »

I agree with most of the positive feedback on characters, world building etc., but no way is this a X00 milestone story.

x00 is an arbitrary "milestone" anyway. Nothing to me. If this is your main criticism against the story, it's kind of petty (not just gifo, but everybody complaining that this story isn't "good enough" for ep. 300)
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« Reply #37 on: July 13, 2011, 08:54:17 AM »

I agree with most of the positive feedback on characters, world building etc., but no way is this a X00 milestone story.

x00 is an arbitrary "milestone" anyway. Nothing to me. If this is your main criticism against the story, it's kind of petty (not just gifo, but everybody complaining that this story isn't "good enough" for ep. 300)
It's not a criticism against the story (please don't take it as such), but against editorial choice. It is not a criticism of the story, just its placement. An X00 story would be arbitrary, yes, except that precedent on Escape Pod hasn't established it as such. The decision has been made to make each of these something "special." If truly arbitrary, why even have Mur bring it up as a milestone and their reason for selecting "We Go Back" ?
Editorial choice and placement is an important factor in putting out any sort of entertainment. You don't put letters to the editor on the front page story of a magazine, do you? No, you lead with your strongest, most appealing story. Think of the X00 stories not only as front page but "Special Edition!" As such, it is not a petty criticism of the venue (not of the individual story).
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« Reply #38 on: July 13, 2011, 09:12:55 AM »

OK the story was well done but the whole motivation of Jenny's friend and the coming out, at a way too young age, angle left a bad taste.

You didn't know whether you were attracted to boys or girls when you were fourteen?
nope growing up in the 1960's and early 1970's I was nether pressured one way or another. In addition could the problem is we are pushing sexuality on kids way to early for ulterior motives, Ohhow great we boomers are, we just can mess up our own generation.

I guess I don't really understand what you're saying here.  Perhaps because I'm a child of the 80's?  I don't know of any pressure exerted on me to choose a sexual orientation, but I had crushes LONG before I was 14.  I mean, that's pretty well into the swing of puberty when all the hormones have gone completely haywire.  Granted, these crushes are not something I ever really acted on at that age, nor talked to adults about, but I knew damned well my sexual orientation long before that, and I don't think it had anything to do with societal pressure.


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« Reply #39 on: July 13, 2011, 09:22:29 AM »

I agree with most of the positive feedback on characters, world building etc., but no way is this a X00 milestone story.

x00 is an arbitrary "milestone" anyway. Nothing to me. If this is your main criticism against the story, it's kind of petty (not just gifo, but everybody complaining that this story isn't "good enough" for ep. 300)

Arbitrary, sure.  But no more arbitrary than the US drinking age being 21 revolutions around the sun or teatime being 4pm.

It's not that the story isn't "good enough" for ep 300, but that the round numbers are a good excuse to roll out some classic fiction.  Good does not imply classic, and classic does not imply good.  But it's a good excuse to have a different flavor for an arbitrary landmark, to mix things up.  I was hoping there would be something of an older variety just for this week, like an H.G. Wells or a Heinlein or something.
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« Reply #40 on: July 13, 2011, 09:24:30 AM »

I think I may well be in a minority here in having mixed feelings about this one.

As ever, Mur did a very good job of narrating and she lent the natural credibility to the story that good story tellers seem to be able to do.

The ‘rites of passage’ stuff was generally good. I’d have liked to see more exploration of the theme of Miranda working out her purpose. That’s an intriguing theme and I wanted to see more of M struggle to work this out.The plot seemed a bit shallow, but I can accept that there’s a lot more back story and depth in The Nex.

Some reviewers have balked at the fact that this is a monologue, but I'm okay with that – there’s good and bad reasons to write in first person and this worked okay as a story in that mode.

I also liked the exploration of sexuality, I think this is a rich vein for SciFi stories and I could believe that Jenny and Randy are exploring a relationship together where one is gay and one is straight (I think Randy’s straight?).

What makes me wince is that, yet again we have that old hackneyed theme: the religious, especially Christian, people are the dysfunctional paranoid bad guys. It’s been revisited so many times it’s about as bad as thinking that an alien with eyes on stalks is a radical idea. Apparently they ‘loved Jenny but they loved Jesus more’ – that just seems lame to me.

If you are wondering, yes I am a Christian, but actually the use of these sorts of character offends my literary sensibilities much more than my religious ones. I want to read about complex and subtle characters, even if they are sketched cameo roles. When authors rely on stereotype I am left wishing they’d tried harder.  I am sure Tim Pratt is a very good author, time for him to raise the bar.

Also as I think Gamecrow says ‘the logic falls apart if you tug at the seams a bit’. Well that was true. There’s a stream of mildly unbelievable elements to the whole thing. One or two I could swallow, but all of them? For example:

Randy acquires a powerful ring, this thing has a ‘jump engine’ and there’s only a few of them in the universe. Okay I can just about buy that. 
Then there’s Mum and dad who live in the same house but apart, mum has a boyfriend who seems to either live there or visit a lot, but dad wants mum back?
And Randy decides immediately that she wants to go on adventures after Jenny’s been away for two years, and has deceived her and lied to her. Really?
The FBI has her fingerprints via an adoption. Maybe hmmmm

All of it together is a bit too much to swallow.

I’d like to hear more of Tim’s work but because of these points, and because there didn’t seem to be much of a story really, I’m left feeling a bit dissatisfied. Undecided


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« Reply #41 on: July 13, 2011, 10:49:57 AM »

Andy, think I'm with you on the hackneyed "religious = evil" thing. There are of course times where that's true, but most families I know deal with it lovingly and in a way that does not alienate their children. I think this is the exception rather than the rule (I have no stats to back this up, just anecdote, so take it for what you will).

I acutally enjoyed the recent Hugo nominee that I think was over on StarShipSofa recently - about the Mormon missionary to an alien species. I'm not Mormon, but it was nice to see someone religious be the hero rather than the antagonist.
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« Reply #42 on: July 13, 2011, 01:03:18 PM »

It's not that the story isn't "good enough" for ep 300, but that the round numbers are a good excuse to roll out some classic fiction.  Good does not imply classic, and classic does not imply good.  But it's a good excuse to have a different flavor for an arbitrary landmark, to mix things up.  I was hoping there would be something of an older variety just for this week, like an H.G. Wells or a Heinlein or something.

That's pretty much where I'm at on this one.
With apologies to Tim Pratt, who otherwise knows his trade well enough.
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« Reply #43 on: July 13, 2011, 01:58:33 PM »

I do find it interesting that the "new" EP team went with a modern story, after the last editor ran two classics for the milestone.  On the other hand, the "new" Podcastle team choose to run a classic recently for no particular milestone, after the old editors ran a modern story for 100.

Actually, Dave and Anna ran that 100th story (which I only know because it was the first story I read for PC after they took over).
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« Reply #44 on: July 13, 2011, 02:39:16 PM »

What makes me wince is that, yet again we have that old hackneyed theme: the religious, especially Christian, people are the dysfunctional paranoid bad guys. It’s been revisited so many times it’s about as bad as thinking that an alien with eyes on stalks is a radical idea. Apparently they ‘loved Jenny but they loved Jesus more’ – that just seems lame to me.

For your sake, I'm genuinely glad that it doesn't match your experience.

The fact is, however, that things like the "It Gets Better" project wouldn't need to exist if there weren't widespread discrimination and abuse (at least mental and emotional, and often physical) of gay teenagers in religious families (not just Christian ones, either, though of course, they're the most common, in the U.S.).

Tim Pratt didn't make up "those camps where they try to cure your gayness" - they genuinely exist, and they exist because people want them - or something that does what they (claim to) do - and do actually pay to use them.

It's a stereotype in stories because it's a reality. And I see stories like that far more in the news than I do in fiction.

Also, thinking back over it, I actually think Pratt did a pretty good job of not making them into one-dimensional 'bad guys'. They were dysfunctional and paranoid, but I got the distinct sense that Jenny's parents would consider that they were doing that stuff for her, out of love for her and fear for her soul, not to her, which is a perspective that a lot of religion-bashers usually don't acknowledge. (It doesn't make those actions any less damaging, of course, but it does change the perpetrators from being seen as 'evil' to 'misguided'.)

Jenny's perspective is the opposite, of course, so when she was describing it, naturally it was A Bad Thing. But Randi's perspective was a little more nuanced, to me at least. Your mileage may vary.
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« Reply #45 on: July 13, 2011, 02:47:14 PM »

I actually enjoyed the recent Hugo nominee that I think was over on StarShipSofa recently - about the Mormon missionary to an alien species.

Ender Wiggin? Wink
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« Reply #46 on: July 13, 2011, 03:09:01 PM »

I rather take exception to all of the people calling the last line of the story a 'pun'. I know puns. I've read some excellent puns (and committed at least one atrocity myself) and that isn't one.

I won't deny that it was wordplay (and, I thought, rather clever at that). But it takes more than that to be a pun.

The essence of a pun is using a word in a place where it means something else but sounds like the word you'd actually use there.  (Okay, that isn't an especially lucid description, but at least it's my own; I didn't crib it from Wikipedia or anything! Grin )

In this case, Pratt took a phrase that has (at least) two distinct meanings (the second of which, by the way, is much more meaningful in a science fictional context!) and told a story that illustrates how both meanings apply to the two girls; one describes the relationship between them and the other refers to their current activities (which, come to think of it, came about because of ... the relationship between them).

And yes, Pratt set the story up to use the last line to demonstrate that he'd done that. So? It gave the idea that much more impact. And for me, at least, that added to the story rather than detracting from it.

If it didn't do that for you, that's fine; it isn't going to work for everyone.

But it isn't a pun.


Edit: Found it! The technical term for that is antanaclasis. Wikipedia calls it a kind of pun, but I don't think it a) always necessarily is nor b) is used that way here.
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« Reply #47 on: July 13, 2011, 03:43:04 PM »


I acutally enjoyed the recent Hugo nominee that I think was over on StarShipSofa recently - about the Mormon missionary to an alien species. I'm not Mormon, but it was nice to see someone religious be the hero rather than the antagonist.

I enjoyed that myself -- does Escape Pod have any plans on an exchange with this story for the Hugo nominees, or is it in a different weight class?
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« Reply #48 on: July 13, 2011, 06:02:32 PM »

What can I say, this deserves the highest honor I can think of. I now want to go and find the book! The story was great, even being a short, it was rich and gave me a great recap of the preceding story, with enough vagueness that I now have to seek it out. I loved the relationship between the two main characters, and the payoff at the end, while SLIGHTLY predictable was fun as well, and a great wrap up to the title. BRAVO!   Grin
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« Reply #49 on: July 13, 2011, 10:47:14 PM »

While I did enjoy this story, I confess I groaned when Jenny reveals that she's gay. I don't have a problem with Jenny being gay, I have a problem with "the smart girl" being gay. Why is it that our society has such a problem with smart girls? It's as if a smart girl is so unattractive to men that we must make her ugly, or shy, or gay. I was rather disappointed to see this kind of thinking pop up here.
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« Reply #50 on: July 13, 2011, 11:05:50 PM »

to be fair, the smart boy rarely fairs better. (hey Piggy Piggy Piggy)
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« Reply #51 on: July 13, 2011, 11:35:47 PM »

While I did enjoy this story, I confess I groaned when Jenny reveals that she's gay. I don't have a problem with Jenny being gay, I have a problem with "the smart girl" being gay. Why is it that our society has such a problem with smart girls? It's as if a smart girl is so unattractive to men that we must make her ugly, or shy, or gay. I was rather disappointed to see this kind of thinking pop up here.

Maybe it's not that the smart girls are gay, but that the gay girls are smart. Smiley  (But we - and even they- don't find out in that order, of course.)
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« Reply #52 on: July 14, 2011, 12:01:24 AM »


The FBI has her fingerprints via an adoption. Maybe hmmmm

All of it together is a bit too much to swallow.


I think it's reasonable that her fingerprints would be on file for child safety reasons. I'm not sure that it's reasonable that that Feds would bother looking in that database.
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« Reply #53 on: July 14, 2011, 12:08:35 AM »

The FBI has her fingerprints via an adoption. Maybe hmmmm

I think it's reasonable that her fingerprints would be on file for child safety reasons. I'm not sure that it's reasonable that that Feds would bother looking in that database.

Depends on how rich the guy she took the files from is.
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« Reply #54 on: July 14, 2011, 12:45:54 AM »

@Andy C
I can see where you coming from I am a Christian but I did not think much of it and did not bring the issue up  because I have seen churches and Christians acting like that (why I left evangelicalism and became Reformed and Anglican), and being Reformed and respect to total depravity I not surprised  of Tim Pratt's portrayal of Christianity.

Still I am sad some authors paint Christians with a broad stereotype as villains as well as taking a swipe on ministries to gays(I have personal experiences similar counseling).
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« Reply #55 on: July 14, 2011, 07:35:55 AM »

The FBI has her fingerprints via an adoption. Maybe hmmmm

I think it's reasonable that her fingerprints would be on file for child safety reasons. I'm not sure that it's reasonable that that Feds would bother looking in that database.

Depends on how rich the guy she took the files from is.
The police have fingerprinted almost every child as part of school enrollment since about 1980.
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« Reply #56 on: July 14, 2011, 08:06:31 AM »

This story amused the hell out of me - so much so that I'm buying The Nex and reading it, well, next. I loved the friendship the characters shared and this particular take on the consequences of the weird fantasy stuff that happens in stories. All hail Tim Pratt!
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« Reply #57 on: July 14, 2011, 09:35:09 AM »

I think it's reasonable that her fingerprints would be on file for child safety reasons. I'm not sure that it's reasonable that that Feds would bother looking in that database.

To me it wasn't so much a surprise that they would bother, but that they were allowed to use the adoption database in that way.  If that database was set up supposedly as a way to protect the child, then it seems a major violation to use that for criminal tracking, when she has no criminal record to justify it.  Especially since she is still a minor.

Edit: Found it! The technical term for that is antanaclasis. Wikipedia calls it a kind of pun, but I don't think it a) always necessarily is nor b) is used that way here.

Ah!  Thank you for correcting me.  You are right, the ending light was not a terrible pun.  It was a terrible antanaclasis.  It still felt like a really bad punchline to a really long joke that didn't appear to be a joke until that punchline arose.  As an ending line, it gave the impression that everything before it was put in place just for this really bad joke, which thinking back on the story makes the whole thing seem weaker.
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« Reply #58 on: July 14, 2011, 09:37:16 AM »

Andy, think I'm with you on the hackneyed "religious = evil" thing. There are of course times where that's true, but most families I know deal with it lovingly and in a way that does not alienate their children. I think this is the exception rather than the rule (I have no stats to back this up, just anecdote, so take it for what you will).

I acutally enjoyed the recent Hugo nominee that I think was over on StarShipSofa recently - about the Mormon missionary to an alien species. I'm not Mormon, but it was nice to see someone religious be the hero rather than the antagonist.

Yes!  That was an awesome story, well deserving of the nom, IMO.  "That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made" by Eric James Stone:
http://www.starshipsofa.com/blog/2011/06/21/starshipsofa-no-194-eric-james-stone/
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« Reply #59 on: July 14, 2011, 01:49:25 PM »

No. No. A hundred thousand times no.
Mur, sorry to say, I think you screwed up.
First, let me say that I've been looking forward to EP 300 since May. I figured that Steve's Grandmaster tradition would continue, so I was incredibly excited. When I heard Mur say that this would be a modern story, instead of an old one, I was a little disappointed. I had been hoping for Herbert or Clark or Silverberg. But when Mur said it would be a Tim Pratt story, I was still pretty pumped - Tim is a great and well-known author. Then I realized it was a YA story, and my spirits sank even further. There are a few really good YA stories, so I hadn't lost all hope yet. Now let me list the ways in which the story itself disappointed me.
1 - I hated the main character. Given a device which allows literally infinite opportunities for exploration, she is inert. The excuses she gives - no money, age, sentiment - are easily circumvented. She appears to have no desire to escape her life, which she hates. I had nothing but contempt for her, honestly.
2 - logic gaps the size of the sun.
3 - I felt like this had potential. If the MC and Jenny had left together - not an unreasonable proposition, since they are both miserable - they could have had a novel-sized adventure. Here's a plot off the top of my head.
They go to the Nex, where Jenny receives something cool to counterpart the jumpgate. The two of them navigate the Great Material Continuum, trading goods between universes and making a fat profit. One of the other ringbearers, who secretly leads a neo-Mexican drug smuggling operation, blows up something and blames them. Penniless, they escape into the multiverse, along with the cyborg, who was also framed, trading, exploring, making new friends, and eventually getting the phlebotnium, the McGuffin, and the proof they need that they are innocent. They then part ways, Jenny becoming
 an apprentice as in the story, and the MC carrying on with the business and/or seeing her parents.
Not the most original, I'll grant, but it wouldn't be as jarring as the story was.
Also, one thing that nobody's pointed out - and the worst time travel mistake that people make - is the small problem that the MC is aging two weeks every other night or so. That's 7 years in one year. Bit noticeable, that...
All in all, a "meh" story, but absolutely NOT centennial-worthy. As a point of interest, Mur, why this one for the centennial? We had a time travel/teleportation story last time too...
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« Reply #60 on: July 14, 2011, 02:30:17 PM »

taking a swipe on ministries to gays(I have personal experiences similar counseling).

Why shouldn't "ministries to gays" aka reprogramming be swiped at?  It is a barbaric practice that is quite often one step away from torture.
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« Reply #61 on: July 14, 2011, 03:46:41 PM »

As a standalone story i thought it was ok, it was pretty light on plot, i found it unrealistic that Jenny turned from best friend to angry bitch to sobbing victim in a manner on seconds, and that this all-powerful ring was easily replicated by a child. As episode 300 i found it pretty disappointing and as a Tim Pratt story i was very disappointed since i expect great things from him.

To be fair, i didnt like episode 100 and 200 either but i thought they both worked as stand alone stories
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« Reply #62 on: July 14, 2011, 04:32:22 PM »

to be fair, the smart boy rarely fairs better. (hey Piggy Piggy Piggy)

Too true. The critics didn't like Pierce Brosnan in Volcano (a horribly inaccurate movie, BTW) because he was too sexy to be a scientist.
Either way, for both genders, this has got to stop....
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« Reply #63 on: July 15, 2011, 11:21:45 AM »

I do find it interesting that the "new" EP team went with a modern story, after the last editor ran two classics for the milestone.  On the other hand, the "new" Podcastle team choose to run a classic recently for no particular milestone, after the old editors ran a modern story for 100.

Actually, Dave and Anna ran that 100th story (which I only know because it was the first story I read for PC after they took over).

Sorry for coming to this a little late...

I guess technically Anna and I ran that one, although we felt giving Rachel the honor of picking the story in question was the right thing to do. (And, of course, we're happy with her selection.)

Congrats on 300 Escape Pods, and thanks to Mur for bringing this one to us. Looking forward to 3000 more  Grin
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« Reply #64 on: July 17, 2011, 12:01:39 PM »

I listened to the introduction to this story and began composing my response to post here. "The contrast between editors couldn't be more stark," I would say. Even, "I'm beginning to wonder if the change was a good thing."  I listened to the beginning and middle of the story. "What happened to 'Have Fun'? as a guiding aesthetic for Escape Pod?" I would ask. "Why do EP stories always have to have such grinding themes?"  I was ready to have to wait a week to write it, because I was getting so confused, and angry, and frustrated.

And then I listened to the ending.  And Mur's closing.  And all was right with the world again.

Thank you, Mur.  This was the perfect episode 300.
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« Reply #65 on: July 18, 2011, 09:28:49 AM »

well i enjoyed it.

This is the first major milestone I've been at escape artists for, so i had none of the history of classic SF weighing down on me. I don't see why a round number should be a milestone, who cares? it's just another story, a really good story by a really good author. I'm always a little apathetic about Escape Pod because Sci-Fi just isn't really my go, but i enjoyed this story immensely. Probably my favourite Tim Pratt story to run on EP.
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« Reply #66 on: July 18, 2011, 07:55:34 PM »

Wow, I'm surprised by some of the harsh tones here. This story wasn't my favorite in the world, but then again I enjoyed it and certainly don't think it's a bad story. Similarly with the editorial choice to run it as episode 300: it's tough to pick a story when the expectations for something "special" have been so high and I feel like almost any story could be deemed "not special enough". So, I'm glad that Mur et al went with their gut because that's part of what it takes to be a really great editorial team.


As for the story itself, I agree that there are a lot of illogical decisions being made by both of the main characters, but I can chalk that up to teenagers being illogical. Even "chosen ones" and super-geniuses can only have so much emotional maturity by age 14. I also got really up in arms about the characterization of the Christian parents and like Nobilis I started composing lots of annoyed posts in my head. Then I waited a week to post and decided it just isn't worth it to go over the same old ground again. So, I guess this can serve as my official complaint and I'll leave it at that.
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« Reply #67 on: July 19, 2011, 08:29:47 AM »

Good story, and a lot of stories, need is logical analysis. I like to listen to someone tell a story of people. As a listener, you must understand the twists and turns. . .


You sound so philosophical, I'm not actually sure what your opnion of the story was.   Grin
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« Reply #68 on: July 19, 2011, 06:11:30 PM »

The ending made me laugh heartily aloud. I think it's absolutely perfect and am pleased he ended it in such a manner. Somehow I felt like I should have seen it coming. Tongue
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« Reply #69 on: July 19, 2011, 10:21:44 PM »

Tim. Pratt. Never disappoints. Although I'll admit that I'm torn as to whether I liked the story better before I found out that it was a sequel/continuation/what-have-you to an earlier Narnia-esque story, or whether I liked it when I thought that all that back-story was just that: back-story. But either way: still loved it, and always excited to see (or rather HEAR) "... written by Tim Pratt..."
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« Reply #70 on: July 21, 2011, 05:36:14 AM »

I can tell you in one sentence why I liked this story so much more than I might normally have (which is to say: above average): it was a break from a field of Hugo nominees that, with the exception of one (that I didn't even listen to because I'd already read it), I found flat and uninspiring. FINALLY we get away from these plodding, heavy, ostensibly-award-worthy pieces and hear from a Hugo-nominated author who has proven that he can win a Hugo with a story everyone likes! (see: "Impossible Dreams")

The story did have too many tropes and too much angst, and I felt the explanation of why Miranda didn't use the ring was a little too pat, and Jenny turning out to be gay was a bit of a facepalm moment for me, but there was a nice recovery on that last one. I didn't expect the pun to be about time-travel, but about Randy bringing Jenny with her back to the Nex and them having more adventures, et al. I also didn't think Jenny's parents were painted as stereotypical literary Christian villains -- I agree with the people who said they felt the parents really did care about Jenny and wanted the best for her in their own way (and there's a whole discussion about "well-meaning but misguided" waiting to be had on that point).

If anything, the place where the story failed was the burglary and its subsequent explanation of the Darknet (which, by the way, does exist, at least if you ask Wikipedia). It was a nice adventure to start the piece off, but I don't know if the ends justified the means in a literary sense (although, to a 14-year-old, they certainly did).

The mom's boyfriend thing -- given the housing market and how much it costs to live away from your spouse even when you're divorced or separated... totally makes sense. It's happened to a friend of mine before. And, in Georgia, you're considered separated if you sleep in separate beds (as a precursor to divorce in GA, you have to sleep apart, even if it's in the same house, for 31 days).

Overall, a good episode.
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« Reply #71 on: July 21, 2011, 09:24:33 AM »

Before I introduce my main point, I want to start with the disclaimer that I really did enjoy this episode. It was well-executed, entertaining, and memorable. I thought that the young teenagers were characterized well, and I was even motivated to seek out the original story. Well done, great marketing.

(Side note: I personally think it might have been an even more satisfying conclusion if the main girl had found a way of breaking free from her parents, instead of waiting for a magical time-traveling workaround from her genius friend; how depressing is it to have the ability to leap through all of time and space, and yet still live under the dominion of overbearing parents?)

For as fun as this story was, however, I don't see that it was x00 commemorative material. (This would be my main point.) You wanted to "look into the future" of sci fi, but instead just gave us a slightly hipper variation on the classic "hero in another world, confined/downtrodden/abused at home" trope which typically dominates fantasy: presented here with sci fi furniture.

But what's more than that, shouldn't every episode of Escape Pod be trying to look into the future of sci fi? Shouldn't the standard episode be about the discovery and proliferation of new, fresh talent?

I like the idea of reexamining the roots of the genre of science fiction, and recognizing and remembering the landmarks in its evolution. So my final question is, if you're not planning to do so for an x00 or even x50 episode, when will you, if at all?
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« Reply #72 on: July 21, 2011, 09:43:43 AM »

I'd argue what is or isn't a good fit for a whatever-number episode is largely subjective and you're not going to get people in agreeance on it no matter what you do.

But what's more than that, shouldn't every episode of Escape Pod be trying to look into the future of sci fi? Shouldn't the standard episode be about the discovery and proliferation of new, fresh talent?

Er, no. Why should it be? Why not just run good stories, by new talent or otherwise? I mean those are good things, don't get me wrong, but I'd strongly argue that sharing good literature is more important than specifically seeking out new talent.
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« Reply #73 on: July 21, 2011, 09:58:59 AM »

That's a good point. But even if every episode isn't a new talent, just how often is it that the program goes back and makes a point of sharing classic material? The majority of the stories are new or newish. Written within the past year or past few years. I think it can be edifying to delve into landmark material from 30, 50, or 70 years into the past. Science fiction has a rich history. But not everyone who is into this show, or who keeps up with publishing trends, is necessarily cognizant of the classic trendsetters in the genre. I just think this would be a worthwhile pursuit.

The only reason I would call out x00 as a potential for "classic" stories is because when I was introduced to Escape Pod, it was with Episode 100. I didn't think the idea of "x00 = commemorative" would be very subjective if it was posited as part of the premise of the show.
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« Reply #74 on: July 21, 2011, 10:11:11 AM »

Well, it can be somewhat difficult to get the rights for older stories that aren't yet in the public domain. As I understanding it, working with authors' estates can be a bit challenging/time consuming, which is difficult when you're trying to release a podcast on a timely schedule.
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« Reply #75 on: July 24, 2011, 03:16:47 PM »

While I did enjoy this story, I confess I groaned when Jenny reveals that she's gay.

+1. I did too, out loud.

Otherwise a fairly enjoyable YA story. I probably would have liked it more when I was 15 myself, lo these many years ago. Was a little disappointed not to hear a "classic" but I got over it.

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« Reply #76 on: July 26, 2011, 04:38:02 PM »

Well, it can be somewhat difficult to get the rights for older stories that aren't yet in the public domain. As I understanding it, working with authors' estates can be a bit challenging/time consuming, which is difficult when you're trying to release a podcast on a timely schedule.

True, yes, but it's not like it's a big surprise that numbers will progress in order until you get to 300. That is, you know it's coming; if you want to do something special, work ahead. (Hint: Now a good time to be thinking about 400.  Wink)

I don't mean to sound like sour grapes. I love Escape Pod and have from the start. I guess I was just... expecting expensive champagne and flowers for our special day and got Sam Adams and pretzels instead. I like both, but the second just doesn't seem as special...

(As an aside, what are anniversaries and birthdays but arbitrary dates? ... but don't you feel bad if yours got missed?)
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« Reply #77 on: August 10, 2011, 03:33:13 PM »

(As an aside, what are anniversaries and birthdays but arbitrary dates? ... but don't you feel bad if yours got missed?)

Eh, not to keep picking at this one, but...

It didn't get missed. Mur commissioned a story from Tim Pratt. So to follow your allusion: it may not have been the party you thought it would be, but there was a party Smiley
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« Reply #78 on: August 11, 2011, 07:51:34 AM »

I'm stymied. Maybe it's because my family doesn't do big things for birthdays, but the fact that there is so much discussion about something that happened twice -- just twice -- before not happening again. If you want a tour through the classics, maybe it would be a good idea to suggest to Mur that we do a month-long run of them, or maybe we could make the first week of every month for classics, or maybe we could start dropping episodes of OTR SwagCast or similar into the feed -- the possibilities are endless.

I'm trying to be positive here because I know I take these comments to heart too often and should probably not even read this board, but the people that work on this show are a pretty accessible bunch. If you have ideas, share them. If you're disappointed in something, maybe think to yourself "Well, I'm a bit disappointed in that, I wonder what I could do or suggest that might make it better for next time?" before coming here to show off your crank pants. Then mention it to Bill or I and we will absolutely make sure it gets discussed.
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« Reply #79 on: August 11, 2011, 09:09:06 AM »

I'm stymied. Maybe it's because my family doesn't do big things for birthdays, but the fact that there is so much discussion about something that happened twice -- just twice -- before not happening again. If you want a tour through the classics, maybe it would be a good idea to suggest to Mur that we do a month-long run of them, or maybe we could make the first week of every month for classics, or maybe we could start dropping episodes of OTR SwagCast or similar into the feed -- the possibilities are endless.

I'm trying to be positive here because I know I take these comments to heart too often and should probably not even read this board, but the people that work on this show are a pretty accessible bunch. If you have ideas, share them. If you're disappointed in something, maybe think to yourself "Well, I'm a bit disappointed in that, I wonder what I could do or suggest that might make it better for next time?" before coming here to show off your crank pants. Then mention it to Bill or I and we will absolutely make sure it gets discussed.

Fair enough.  

For me:  
I like the tradition of having a classic story from time to time (not every week, certainly, but scattered here and there).  I realize that getting the rights for these can be a complicated affair, especially when the original author has died, so the landmark of big round numbers seems like a good excuse to go for those.  One can plan far ahead to try to acquire the rights.  Although, yes, big round numbers are arbitrary, they make as much sense as anything as an excuse for a celebration and to do something unusual.  And hey, I like big round numbers.  I'm one of those people that gets excited to watch the odometer roll over 4 zeroes at once (though this is much less fun now that all cars seem to have the digital readouts instead of mechanical wheels).

I like Tim Pratt's writing.  If I had to pick my favorite short story author of all time, he would be my choice, no contest, because I like a much larger percentage of his stories than any other author I've ever read.  Except for one story, all of his stories have fallen in the range of reactions between "Holy crap that was great!" and "That was a fun time well spent."  Much of the reason that he is my favorite is that I've gotten such a superb sampling of his work from the Escape Artists podcasts.  So I am not at all disapproving of having a Pratt story on the podcast.

But, since Pratt IS so often on Escape Artist podcasts (which, again, I am not complaining about), it's hard to see a Tim Pratt story as being a milestone event.  As opposed to, say, a Heinlein or an Asimov or a Philip K. Dick story, fellows who are not on one of the EA podcasts on a regular basis.  And those names, who have been around forever and have had movie adaptations that the general public will have seen, also have the advantage of helping to draw in new listeners who will then hopefully stick around to listen to the rest of the stories.  Let's say if PK Dick's "The Golden Man" were podcasted, then when someone comments (in real life or forum) on that terrible movie "Next" starring Nicolas Cage , then one could say "Well, yeah, that movie did have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.  If you want to hear the original, check out episode 400 of Escape Pod.  It won't even cost you any money to listen, unlike the $10 you paid for that money that you're never getting back."  (I've not read "The Golden Man", but ye gods that was a terrible movie.  I have to believe the PKD version is better)
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« Reply #80 on: August 11, 2011, 10:37:18 AM »

Let's say if PK Dick's "The Golden Man" were podcasted, then when someone comments (in real life or forum) on that terrible movie "Next" starring Nicolas Cage , then one could say "Well, yeah, that movie did have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.  If you want to hear the original, check out episode 400 of Escape Pod.  It won't even cost you any money to listen, unlike the $10 you paid for that money that you're never getting back."  (I've not read "The Golden Man", but ye gods that was a terrible movie.  I have to believe the PKD version is better)

What? I had no idea that Next was based on "The Golden Man" (which was a pretty good story). Now I suppose I'll have to watch it... I mean, I watched Total Recall, Minority Report and Paycheck (that last was really bad).
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« Reply #81 on: August 11, 2011, 10:55:25 AM »

Let's say if PK Dick's "The Golden Man" were podcasted, then when someone comments (in real life or forum) on that terrible movie "Next" starring Nicolas Cage , then one could say "Well, yeah, that movie did have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.  If you want to hear the original, check out episode 400 of Escape Pod.  It won't even cost you any money to listen, unlike the $10 you paid for that money that you're never getting back."  (I've not read "The Golden Man", but ye gods that was a terrible movie.  I have to believe the PKD version is better)

What? I had no idea that Next was based on "The Golden Man" (which was a pretty good story). Now I suppose I'll have to watch it... I mean, I watched Total Recall, Minority Report and Paycheck (that last was really bad).

Paycheck was really bad.  Next is much, much worse.  I keep on going to PK Dick movies hoping they will not be ruined.  Usually I am disappointed, but I still hold a glimmer of hope.  I thought "A Scanner Darkly" worked pretty well and actually stuck pretty much to the text instead of Hollywoodizing it.
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« Reply #82 on: August 11, 2011, 04:47:25 PM »

Watch "Next" with the Rifftrax instead!
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« Reply #83 on: August 11, 2011, 06:02:25 PM »

Quote from: NetFlix
Las Vegas magician Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage) can see a few minutes into the future, a talent he uses to enhance his shows -- and to win at blackjack. But when an FBI agent (Julianne Moore) wants his help thwarting a nuclear attack, Cris finds his psychic skills put to the test.

That's not even remotely based on "The Golden Man". "...can see a few minutes into the future" is the only common element. They wasted their money buying the film rights to the story.
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« Reply #84 on: August 12, 2011, 08:48:15 AM »

Quote from: NetFlix
Las Vegas magician Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage) can see a few minutes into the future, a talent he uses to enhance his shows -- and to win at blackjack. But when an FBI agent (Julianne Moore) wants his help thwarting a nuclear attack, Cris finds his psychic skills put to the test.

That's not even remotely based on "The Golden Man". "...can see a few minutes into the future" is the only common element. They wasted their money buying the film rights to the story.

Isn't that pretty much how Paycheck went too, just stole the speculative element and absolutely nothing else?
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« Reply #85 on: August 12, 2011, 09:07:04 AM »

That's not even remotely based on "The Golden Man". "...can see a few minutes into the future" is the only common element. They wasted their money buying the film rights to the story.

Isn't that pretty much how Paycheck went too, just stole the speculative element and absolutely nothing else?

Most Dick adaptations go that way, keeping a few character names and the premise (I also see Cage's character is named "Cris") but even Paycheck and Total Recall had more elements from their sources identifiable in the films.
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« Reply #86 on: August 12, 2011, 01:24:22 PM »

Quote from: NetFlix
Las Vegas magician Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage) can see a few minutes into the future, a talent he uses to enhance his shows -- and to win at blackjack. But when an FBI agent (Julianne Moore) wants his help thwarting a nuclear attack, Cris finds his psychic skills put to the test.

That's not even remotely based on "The Golden Man". "...can see a few minutes into the future" is the only common element. They wasted their money buying the film rights to the story.

Not if their primary objective was to prevent people from making a (better) movie based on the story.

Not that I'm cynical, or anything...
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« Reply #87 on: August 12, 2011, 02:37:59 PM »

That's not even remotely based on "The Golden Man". "...can see a few minutes into the future" is the only common element. They wasted their money buying the film rights to the story.

Not if their primary objective was to prevent people from making a (better) movie based on the story.

Not that I'm cynical, or anything...

...actually, looked it up and found that the story is in the public domain now.
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« Reply #88 on: August 12, 2011, 04:34:51 PM »

That's not even remotely based on "The Golden Man". "...can see a few minutes into the future" is the only common element. They wasted their money buying the film rights to the story.

Isn't that pretty much how Paycheck went too, just stole the speculative element and absolutely nothing else?

Most Dick adaptations go that way, keeping a few character names and the premise (I also see Cage's character is named "Cris") but even Paycheck and Total Recall had more elements from their sources identifiable in the films.
Sorry for contributing to the derail....
Don't forget Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Its been a long while since I read the source material, but IIRC, the Director's Cut of Bladerunner isn't so far off... But, like I said, its been a while.
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« Reply #89 on: August 12, 2011, 05:02:24 PM »

I'm happy with any of those suggestions. Smiley
And to your point: I think the fact that it has just happened twice pointed it up that much more for me. I'd actually been counting down for months, anticipating what 300 might be.
That I was dissapointed was more the fault of my anticipation than any editorial choice, but, well, I feels how I feels.
Hope I haven't come off as too "cranky pants." I love EP and everything that you do for us listeners. I have nothing but gratitude.
Still, feedback is requested at the end of every show, so... I take the opportunity. Thanks for making it available.

-Adam
I'm stymied. Maybe it's because my family doesn't do big things for birthdays, but the fact that there is so much discussion about something that happened twice -- just twice -- before not happening again. If you want a tour through the classics, maybe it would be a good idea to suggest to Mur that we do a month-long run of them, or maybe we could make the first week of every month for classics, or maybe we could start dropping episodes of OTR SwagCast or similar into the feed -- the possibilities are endless.

I'm trying to be positive here because I know I take these comments to heart too often and should probably not even read this board, but the people that work on this show are a pretty accessible bunch. If you have ideas, share them. If you're disappointed in something, maybe think to yourself "Well, I'm a bit disappointed in that, I wonder what I could do or suggest that might make it better for next time?" before coming here to show off your crank pants. Then mention it to Bill or I and we will absolutely make sure it gets discussed.
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« Reply #90 on: August 17, 2011, 06:50:52 PM »

So, it's been a long time since I've actually been up to date enough to make a relevant comment about a story. I started listening way back in February of 2007. I remember the first story I heard was The Last Wave by Kay Kenyon. I was fourteen when I started listening and I started because my older brother had recommended it to me since he had been listening to Pseudopod and thought I might like what Escape Pod had to offer.

I have listened to Escape Pod since then (I even got some of the earlier stories going back to The Acid Test) and I was still listening in when Podcastle became its own thing. I listen to both, but that surf rock anthem from Daikaiju still helps me feel at home as I settle into "story time." Growing up listening to Escape Pod then Podcastle (sorry Pseudopod, I haven't worked up the courage to walk through the Dark Forest to your gates yet), it feels as if it is a part of my identity. I don't go to cons or write or blog or anything else like that, but I still feel like I had a community here. A community that had similar ideas and dreams.

Escape Pod opened doors for me. Doors to realms where I could escape to and take solace in the fantastic. The futuristic. The nerdy. The (insert other awesome noun here). It really helped me think and grow. Puberty made me an emotional b****, but the world outside would melt away when I heard the clanging guitar announcing another story before a familiar voice could guide me into another realm. Luckily, I have matured into a normal, if not geeky, young man and I feel like I owe a bit of that to Escape Artists.

So I grew (in multiple meanings of the word) and my horizons expanded. The stories inspired me and I realized the power of art, more specifically literature. Hell, Escape Pod helped me through sophomore English in high school. For part of a thesis project, I had used Friction by Will McIntosh to explain what "poetic" meant.

I'm now in college and I've had to listen to a year's worth of episodes in the last year... I've been inspired to write (thankfully, nothing has been published so far)... I've learned to appreciate a good story... I've learned what one man can do with a dream and how that dream can inspire others. I know that Stephen Eley was not the only man behind the curtain. But I must admit, he's the one who hooked me with his own love of a good story. But now there are new commanders on board the Escape Pod and I want to thank you all. Thank you for 300 episodes. Thank you for the sacrifices you make to keep this thing going. Thank you for appreciating good stories. Thank you for inspiring me.

So... Have fun. Be mighty. And may the Escape Pod continue its unknown trajectory through the void for many, many years.

Ever faithfully your Listener,
Captain (none given)
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« Reply #91 on: August 17, 2011, 08:05:24 PM »

Wow. I just want to say, that may be the coolest comment I've read all year - hell, maybe even longer. Thanks so much for posting that!
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« Reply #92 on: August 18, 2011, 09:19:56 AM »

Wow. I just want to say, that may be the coolest comment I've read all year - hell, maybe even longer. Thanks so much for posting that!

Hear hear!  Good luck with your writing too, Captain.  It's hard work, but well worth it.  And I hope to see you around the forums, too.  Smiley
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« Reply #93 on: September 06, 2011, 11:02:24 AM »

Yes indeed, Captain. And I hope you do stick around on the forums. Don't worry about being up to date on posts. If a story strikes, post when you can.

And speaking of which, I finally got around to listening to this, and I was surprised that all I felt from this was Meh. But then again, I don't do epilogues well. I think if I read the Nex first, then this story would've been better on me. I reckon I better put it on my read pile.
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« Reply #94 on: September 06, 2011, 11:49:12 AM »

Yeah, do comment whenever. Sometimes having a new comment show up in the forums for an older story reminds me how much I liked it and maybe I'll listen to it again. Smiley
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