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Author Topic: PC165: The Paper Menagerie  (Read 16935 times)
DKT
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« Reply #60 on: May 20, 2012, 12:53:51 PM »

The Paper Menagerie has won the Nebula Award for best short story 2011

Indeed, it has!   Cheesy

Huge congrats to Ken Liu for winning the Nebula!
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« Reply #61 on: May 21, 2012, 08:27:41 AM »

The Paper Menagerie has won the Nebula Award for best short story 2011

Awesome!  Well deserved, Ken!  And good eye, Podcastle, for running the story.  Smiley

I tend to get frustrated at award season because of the stories that get nominated.  But often I really think the winner is deserving, and that's the case here. 
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spiderking
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« Reply #62 on: May 23, 2012, 07:12:10 PM »

I can't believe how many people said that this was a "touching story", and it made them cry!  It made me furious. 

Were we supposed to feel sympathy for this selfish and spoiled boy who got everything that he asked for, and rejected his loving mother just because he was teased at school?  Give me a break!
I wanted to punch him.

This probably touches a nerve with me because I was in a similar situation as a kid.  My Mom was very different than the culture in which I was raised, and people teased me mercilessly.  But when they dared say anything about my Mom, I told them to go to hell.  And I went home every night and hugged her, and talked with her, and made sure that she felt loved.

Maybe the problem was the dad who had no empathy for his wife and no backbone, and did everything the son wanted.  It makes sense that someone who would buy a woman as property would act that way. 

Either way, no tears were shed, but a few "Are you kidding me?  What an a-hole!" comments did escape.  If the author was trying to make us feel sorry for a horrible son and person, they failed miserably. 
« Last Edit: May 23, 2012, 08:21:46 PM by spiderking » Logged
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« Reply #63 on: May 24, 2012, 08:59:18 AM »

spiderking:
I wanted to punch the boy too, and I wanted to cry for his mother.  But at the same time I wonder if I would be such an a-hole in my teenage years--I would hope not, but that's a time when my (and other's) empathy are not exactly at a high point.  I was embarrassed by my parents to some extent, but not to any greater extent than is normal for a teenager and I still did things with them.

In the present, now that the boy is older, I do feel some sympathy for him.  Not because I think that his actions towards his mother were at all justified, but because he has matured enough to realize how terribly he treated her.  At that point she is dead and beyond my sympathy (though her messages indicate that she is still around in some form and that she still loves him), and at this point he is alive and has no good way to make amends for the shameful acts of his past.  All he can do now is try to learn from his mistakes and have more empathy for other people, and I feel like he's in a place where he's capable of that.  So yes, in the later time period of the story I do feel some sympathy for him.
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« Reply #64 on: May 24, 2012, 09:05:36 AM »

I can't believe how many people said that this was a "touching story", and it made them cry!  It made me furious.  

Were we supposed to feel sympathy for this selfish and spoiled boy who got everything that he asked for, and rejected his loving mother just because he was teased at school?  Give me a break!
I wanted to punch him.

This probably touches a nerve with me because I was in a similar situation as a kid.  My Mom was very different than the culture in which I was raised, and people teased me mercilessly.  But when they dared say anything about my Mom, I told them to go to hell.  And I went home every night and hugged her, and talked with her, and made sure that she felt loved.

Maybe the problem was the dad who had no empathy for his wife and no backbone, and did everything the son wanted.  It makes sense that someone who would buy a woman as property would act that way.

For what it's worth, I was tearing up for the mom in her years of rejection, and only later for the son's sorrow when he finally realized the opportunity he had missed. I agree about the dad being incredibly flawed; had he been able to support his wife as he should, then he would likely have also been able to teach his son to do the same.


Either way, no tears were shed, but a few "Are you kidding me?  What an a-hole!" comments did escape.  If the author was trying to make us feel sorry for a horrible son and person, they failed miserably.

Actually, my interpretation of this story is quite the opposite: don't squander the time that you have with your mom; spend your time right now being the loving son/daughter now that your future self will wish you had been.



ETA: ditto what Unblinking said while I was typing Tongue
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spiderking
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« Reply #65 on: May 24, 2012, 06:48:53 PM »

You guys do have a point, and I was glad that the boy finally learned some empathy.  However I felt much more sorry for the poor Mom when all she did was show him love and he treated her horribly, and his final realization that he treated her as such after she had already lost his love and died without it wasn't enough to redeem the entire story for me.  But I greatly appreciate the message to show the ones you love how you feel and treat them kindly in the short time you have with them.
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« Reply #66 on: May 25, 2012, 08:17:15 AM »

You guys do have a point, and I was glad that the boy finally learned some empathy.  However I felt much more sorry for the poor Mom when all she did was show him love and he treated her horribly, and his final realization that he treated her as such after she had already lost his love and died without it wasn't enough to redeem the entire story for me.  But I greatly appreciate the message to show the ones you love how you feel and treat them kindly in the short time you have with them.

I don't disagree at all.  I have some empathy for the boy, but much more for the mother because she was really trying the best that she could, and by all signs she did love him very much.
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smileyinfesserton
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« Reply #67 on: May 29, 2012, 12:59:47 PM »

It hit me, too, very hard.  I think this story can speak to any family that stands out due to its religion, lifestyle, cultural background.  And its distressing, the amount of angst and confusion we can experience as children--loving our parents, and wanting to be wholeheartedly loved and accepted by them, but at the same time striking out against them, in a desire to fit in with the harder world outside.  Perhaps this was only for the insecure--but how many weren't insecure as children?  I was a pretty self-centred and snotty teenager, as awkward and gawky as it is possible to be: anxious for my parents to not add to my social ineptitude and resentful that their choices made me stand out even more than I did on my own. Perhaps part of the narrator's anger at his mother was misdirected from his largely absent father, with her being an easier and obvious target, easier as he was secure in knowledge of her love?  I'm not sure of the psychology, but in my experience, it seems to be easier for kids to express their anger at their mothers, vs. their fathers.  I think this story speaks to the self-centredness of some of us when we were teenagers, and the terrible regret when our parent dies before we reach maturity and self-knowledge and have the chance to share that awareness of our past idiocy with them...A quote from Paladin of Souls (Lois McMaster Bujold):  "how we fought when I was younger!  I am so glad he lived long enough for us to be grown men together".  And the terrible sadness when they don't live long enough.
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« Reply #68 on: June 04, 2012, 06:23:02 PM »

I just listened to this again on Escape Pod- I loved it as much if not more than the first time.

I love this subtle, elegant magic. It is such a beautiful jewell in an already gorgeous story. This as a plot device alone would have won me over. As it was, the the bones of the story is what spoke to everyone so elementally. It is great that this work generated such discussion as there are clearly so many layers here worth exploring.

Mr Khanna was the perfect reader for the job.
Congratulations on the accolades Ken. Well and truly deserved!
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Garak
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« Reply #69 on: June 08, 2012, 11:29:01 AM »

I agree with what Spiderking said,

I kept thinking that the author had intentionally put an unsympathetic character as the narrator and was going to pull of some sort of reversal, but they didn't. I really didn't identify with the main character or care about them, which is the main problem.

The other problem(s) I had with it was that it is FANTASY, not Science-Fiction! I thought EP was a sf podcast, though in EPs defence I would say that this story probably would have felt out of place in Podcastle too. Anyway, this wasn't remotely science-fiction.

I also hated the glaring errors in this story - like the Obi-Wan figure which never existed; I had one as a child and his lightsabre never lit up! Also, how the hell did she manage to write all of that huge infodump at the end on the inside of a little origami tiger?

Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I just hated this story from start to finish (though strangely I didn't skip it like I normally do when I'm not enjoying a story).
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« Reply #70 on: June 08, 2012, 11:41:08 AM »

I agree with what Spiderking said,

I kept thinking that the author had intentionally put an unsympathetic character as the narrator and was going to pull of some sort of reversal, but they didn't. I really didn't identify with the main character or care about them, which is the main problem.

The other problem(s) I had with it was that it is FANTASY, not Science-Fiction! I thought EP was a sf podcast, though in EPs defence I would say that this story probably would have felt out of place in Podcastle too. Anyway, this wasn't remotely science-fiction.

I also hated the glaring errors in this story - like the Obi-Wan figure which never existed; I had one as a child and his lightsabre never lit up! Also, how the hell did she manage to write all of that huge infodump at the end on the inside of a little origami tiger?

Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I just hated this story from start to finish (though strangely I didn't skip it like I normally do when I'm not enjoying a story).

Hi Garak,

Every year, Escape Pod runs all the Hugo-nominated stories back to back, both science fiction and fantasy (the stories they can get permission for, anyway). It's more efficient to run them all in one place than dividing them up between 'casts. So you are correct, it's fantasy. But it's Hugo Month, for which exceptions are made annually.

A couple other things:

"The the Obi-Wan figure which never existed; I had one as a child and his lightsabre never lit up! "

Next thing you'll be telling me orgami animals don't actually come to life! I mean that's just craziness!

" Also, how the hell did she manage to write all of that huge infodump at the end on the inside of a little origami tiger?"

I'd argue that because of the folding involved, there's a lot more writing room on orgami animals than you'd think.
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LaShawn
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« Reply #71 on: June 08, 2012, 01:01:21 PM »

I relistened to this for the Hugos, and dang, the tears came aflowing, even after reading it again.

This story and "the Homecoming" deal with similar themes: a son turning his back on family. I found Paper Menagerie to be more heartbreaking though. Which is interesting, because both boys have similar motives: the one in Homecoming sees an opportunity to visit other worlds, and become something other than human. The one here in Paper Menagerie wants to fit in his world, so he changes himself to fit better.

At the heart of both stories is acceptance and blessing, which I think this story deals with it better than Homecoming. The son in Homecoming is estranged from his parents, but he still deeply loves them and yearns to be reunited with them. Even though he wears an alien body, he still considers himself human; just enhanced. The father is unable to see that; he thinks that in dumping his human body, the son is denying them, whereas the son argues it's not outside appearance, but what's on the inside. He never gave up that part of himself. Whether if this is true or not is debatable, but the son is secure in who he is, and ultimately receives the blessing he is looking for.

In Paper Menagerie, however, it is the mother who yearns to be understood. In a way, this story is more about her than the son, who has deliberately turned his back on her culture and denies that part of her exists in him. Thus, she is left alone with her pain, which ultimately kills her. But she leaves behind a trail anyway, always hopeful that he would come around. The heartbreaking part is that he does...too late for her to receive that blessing of finally being understood.

Hmm...after I listened to it again, I decided not to vote for it because I felt it ended too quickly. Now that I written the above, I understand why Liu ended it the way he did. I still would like to see more repentence on the son's part, but still, a very strong story.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2012, 01:04:34 PM by LaShawn » Logged

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« Reply #72 on: June 15, 2012, 03:59:29 PM »

Ok how sentimental pap got thrown into a science fiction podcast.
Burn it with fire.
I need a glass of Moloko and think of what violence desecration I can do with this story if the pages were in my hand.


(drama off) ok I do not care for fantasy  or  sentential tear jerkers.
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« Reply #73 on: June 18, 2012, 12:58:53 PM »

Okay, am I the only one who wanted to slap the *mother* silly? When your child (and I believe he was a child and not a teenager when he first rebelled) tells you they do not want to do something that you have told them to do, do you slump dejectedly in your chair and think "oh, okay...."? NO! You remind the kid who is the child and who is the parent and ensure that they comply!

Considering how important the mother claims it was for her to have her son speak Chinese, it seemed totally off to me that she meekly accepted the son's childish rebellion. She should have sent the kid to bed without supper until he smartened up. Kids are stupid, selfish creatures. It is the parents' responsibility to raise them out of that!! (BTW, I'm angry at the father too. I know this wasn't his issue, but he should have supported his wife, or at least not undermined her.)

For those who might be interested, here's where my POV is coming from...
I grew up in North America, to immigrant parents, and my mother *made* us learn Russian, at the height of the cold war! Did we kids want to? Of course not. Were we picked on at school because of this? You have no idea how badly. Did we rebel? We tried. But my mother was firm. This was important to her and we were going to do it or be punished if we didn't. And, in an interesting parallel to the story, my father did not support this decision. He wanted us to blend in. But my mother did the bulk of the child raising, so we kids did what *she* wanted in this regard. Yes, we resented her at the time, but now we really, really value all her efforts. 
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« Reply #74 on: June 18, 2012, 09:37:02 PM »

Yep, I cried. Loved it and would have voted for it.
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« Reply #75 on: September 03, 2012, 08:29:30 AM »

Congratulations on the Hugo Award, Mr. Liu!
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« Reply #76 on: September 04, 2012, 12:02:54 PM »

Congrats!  Well deserved!  And I even got to see the ceremony in person, though I did not get a chance to met Mr. Liu in person (would've liked to but we never happened to cross paths).
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acpracht
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« Reply #77 on: September 04, 2012, 01:13:25 PM »

Adding my congratulations for the Hugo!
Well deserved.
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« Reply #78 on: November 09, 2012, 05:24:31 PM »

Congratulations to Ken Liu and the Paper Menagerie for becoming the first story to ever win all three major spec fic awards: the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award!

To say nothing of the Best Podcastle of 2011 poll, which it also won...
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« Reply #79 on: June 24, 2014, 02:18:59 PM »

I placed this story as my #18 favorite podcast fiction of all time:
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/06/the-best-podcast-fiction-of-all-time-11-20/

And #3 in my fave Podcastle of all time:
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/10/podcast-spotlight-podcastle/
« Last Edit: October 06, 2014, 03:50:36 PM by Unblinking » Logged
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