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Author Topic: EP300: We go back  (Read 12240 times)
Andy C
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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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acpracht
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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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Salul
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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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Wilson Fowlie
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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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"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham
Wilson Fowlie
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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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"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham
Wilson Fowlie
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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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"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham
Wilson Fowlie
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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.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2011, 03:58:34 PM by Wilson Fowlie » Logged

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham
InfiniteMonkey
Lochage
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Clearly, I need more typewriters....


« 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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wekm
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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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CryptoMe
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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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deflective
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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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Wilson Fowlie
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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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"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham
InfiniteMonkey
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Clearly, I need more typewriters....


« 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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Wilson Fowlie
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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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"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham
Scatcatpdx
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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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matweller
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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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ElectricPaladin
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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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Sir Postsalot
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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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Sir Postsalot
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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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HoopyFreud
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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...
« Last Edit: July 14, 2011, 02:09:22 PM by HoopyFreud » Logged
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