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Author Topic: EP093: {Now + n, Now - n}  (Read 18931 times)
SFEley
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« on: February 16, 2007, 12:36:10 PM »

By Robert Silverberg.
Read by Stephen Eley.

All had been so simple, so elegant, so profitable for ourselves.  And then we met the lovely Selene and nearly were undone.  She came into our lives during our regular transmission hour on Wednesday, October 7, 1987, between six and seven P.M. Central European Time.  The moneymaking hour.  I was in satisfactory contact with myself and also with myself.  (Now – n was due on the line first, and then I would hear from (now + n).


Rated R.  Contains sex, nudity, and explicit finance.


Listen to this week's Escape Pod!

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ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine
Simon Painter
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2007, 01:29:10 PM »

I *really* liked this one.  It's probably the best we've had on here in ages. 

The story focus is perfect, it's a love story where they have a problem when they're together, an idea the story fully explores at a pace that's perfect.  it doesn't feel rushed, nor drawn-out.

I loved the use of time-travel as well, that's a really neat way to use it, and it's the obvious thing to do really, if we really did invent any form of time-travel guaranteed the first use would be money-making!

This also stands in stark contrast to the previous episode, as the story would actually be quite hard to do without the SF content, not without some significant changes to the plot, anyway.

My only complaint is the ending, it feels kind've tacked on.  I'm happy enough with the idea of her fetching newspapers for him to use as an alternative to talking to himself, but the idea of him somehow, almost magically, learning her skill seems unlikely.  There's not really any reason to include it, either, the plot had already been resolved before this development.

4.5/5 this time, more like this please :-p

Simon Painter
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2007, 03:22:57 PM »

the beginning kinda lost me, too much random numbers heh.  But as i listened to it, i really got into it.  Very well told, after the initial confusion over the time stream it gets really good!
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jeffwik
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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2007, 10:30:07 PM »

Agreed, the setup was a little slow, but it really picked up once Celine arrived.  I spent a sizable chunk of the story expecting her to be a Time Cop of some kind, and the actual truth of the matter was certainly entertaining.  The ending doesn't make a whole lot of logical sense (the narrator's odd obsession with a game he's thoroughly rigged so he can't possibly lose notwithstanding, even a conservative investment of the narrator's millions of dollars of capital will surely generate enough interest for the couple to live very comfortably) but does fit thematically and emotionally with the rest of the story.

One thing I didn't like about this episode, and that I enjoyed about the last several, is the reader.  I have nothing against Stephen Eley's voice, but I feel that I hear it and Mur Lafferty's a lot.  Looking at the site, I see there's been four stories (five counting the flash piece) since the last one Stephen read, so maybe I'm being irrational.  But one of my favorite components of Escape Pod is the Intro-Text-Outro format, with a clear distinction between the story and the rest of the podcast.  This stands in stark contrast to the bulk of the podcasts I hear, which aren't so smoothly defined.

Let me say clearly I don't dislike Stephen's voice.  I just really like hearing him introduce a story, hearing someone else read it, and then hearing him comment on it.
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mthornton
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« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2007, 11:07:52 PM »

I also spent the entire story expecting her to be a cop or a con artist.  I expect this says more about me than the story.

Have a relationship that did not have any ulterior motives was refreshing.
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Josh
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« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2007, 11:17:28 PM »

I agree with mthornton, Hollywood has ingrained betrayal and deception into our minds,everything is just too good to be true, and it was nice to have an all around, well pardon the repetition, nice story. I was also very pleased about the length, when my computer finished downloading and I saw 53 minutes, I was ecstatic. Keep up the good work.   
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SFEley
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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2007, 02:16:11 AM »

I was also very pleased about the length, when my computer finished downloading and I saw 53 minutes, I was ecstatic. Keep up the good work.   

Heh.  Yes, I remember your previous comment about the stories being too short, and I was actually thinking about you when I put this together.  >8->

This is nearly on the outside of our length curve -- it will take a highly extraordinary case for us to exceed an hour -- but we do try to vary the length and pacing of the episodes, along with a number of other variables when I'm scheduling.  Two twenty-minute episodes back to back was fairly unusual.
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Heradel
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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2007, 02:46:13 AM »

How many takes does it take for you to record something this long? Do you do one long one and then go back to the coughs, sips of water, and other verbal anomalies?

I do have to say, as someone that has known a couple of Texan females, Steve's take on the Texan female voice was one of the funnier parts.
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Brian Reilly
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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2007, 10:22:46 AM »

This was excellent. Which is a pleasant surprise as I didn't like the previous Robert Silverberg story too much.

It had one simple, clearly expressed idea and explored it well, as short SF should. It's a realistic idea about how someone could use time travel, and the dilemma the main character found himself in made me eager to find out how he would resolve it.

The twist at the end was clever, I thought. The obvious solution would be to set aside a time to communicate with the others, the eventual outcome was very much unexpected.

5 stars.
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SFEley
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« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2007, 11:21:33 AM »

How many takes does it take for you to record something this long? Do you do one long one and then go back to the coughs, sips of water, and other verbal anomalies?

It varies.  I don't want to bore people by going too deep into how the sausage is made, but I generally record in one long take, marking my mistakes as edit points while I read, and then go back and edit.  (Which usually takes 2-3 times as long as recording.)  The hazard of splitting a story into multiple recording sessions is that it's hard to keep one's voice exactly the same.
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contra
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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2007, 12:40:46 PM »

10/10. Will listen to again.  Cheesy

Its a good story.  I liked the technical look at time travel and an easy was of IDing yourself are past present or future without sounding like a nutbar...

I liked the predetination and the complexity of the time travel.  A mechanism is not always needed for these sorts of things, its easily accepted if you just make it a part of your universe.  Far to many people worry about the how today, and let it get in the way of a good story... but thats why SF exists... its fiction... anything can happen.

I want light speed battles with dragons in space with neo Hitler and space jesus.  I don't care about the how...
ok maybe not... <___<
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nebulinda
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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2007, 02:38:31 PM »

This has been my favorite story for the last couple of weeks. The only part I didn't like was how fast they fell in love. But I can get over that because the rest of the story had me captivated. I also kept expecting her to turn him in to the SEC or something.

I love the idea of loving someone, but they're also ruining your life. Normally, in a story this long, I would probably have fallen alseep. But this story held my interest so much that I was able to stave off sleep for a another few minutes. (Don't get me wrong; I always listen to the rest later, but I usually listen before I go to sleep, and I have very little attention span anyway.)
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Roney
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« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2007, 06:51:04 PM »

A five-star hotel south of the river?  I know that this is speculative fiction, but I prefer it when it's plausible.  Smiley  I'd also say that the body of water by Abu Simbel is more Lake Nasser than the Nile, and I'd have thought that this would have been the case in 1972.  (Assuming the globalhyperinterweb is correct about when the story was written.)  It sounds a bit nit-picky, but a story that wears its globe-trotting on its sleeve needs to get the little details right.

Still, I've got to love a character who drinks Chateau d'Yquem before dinner.  And I quite liked the idea that he was so obsessed with making money that he would give up the love of his life for it, despite having a hoard that would sustain a small nation: that felt depressingly realistic.
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eytanz
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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2007, 02:24:39 AM »

First, let me start by saying that I really liked the story. It was well-plotted, consistently interesting for 45 minutes, and for once, a good blend of a story that's both about ideas *and* about people, rather than the stories where SF elements are just window dressing, or where the characters are cardboard cutouts.

The one thing I didn't like was the voice acting. It was very skilled, and very good - but I felt it was pretty inappropriate for the story. It started well, but by the middle the tone felt mismatched to what it was relating - it felt like the narrator isn't believing anything he was saying. Maybe it was just me, though, since no-one else commented on this yet.
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Roney
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« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2007, 03:58:47 PM »

Regarding Steve's intro, there's an Iain Banks book where the whole plot turns out to have been driven by one character's love (or at least obsession) for another.  (It's difficult to be more specific without spoilers.)  Love doesn't exactly take centre stage, but it's the best example I've been able to think of so far.

I'm assuming from the lack of comments on this subject that there isn't a vast sub-genre of sci-fi romance that Steve and I have somehow missed...

Edit: [annoyed grunt]  Just spotted the thread of SF/F love stories in the SF/F Discussion board in the forum.  Not that it's unearthed many examples yet.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2007, 04:17:56 PM by Roney » Logged
SFEley
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« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2007, 05:03:52 PM »

Regarding Steve's intro, there's an Iain Banks book where the whole plot turns out to have been driven by one character's love (or at least obsession) for another.  (It's difficult to be more specific without spoilers.)  Love doesn't exactly take centre stage, but it's the best example I've been able to think of so far.

Which novel?  I could think of Excession and Use of Weapons both fitting that description in very different (and somewhat disturbing) ways.  >8->
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wakela
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« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2007, 06:24:13 PM »

I have some issues with this story, but the good parts were so good that I still enjoyed it very much.  I'm pretty sure that they could have come up with some arrangement, especially after he told her what the deal was and she was cool with it.  I love my wife, and I have to spend 8 hours a day at the office.  He would only have to spend 20 minutes every two days at the hotel bar while she got a makeover.  Of course he could have stopped altogether and lived off the interest.  I know he was obsessed with money, but "he's crazy" isn't the most interesting motivation.  It's perilously close to Steve's pet peeve that the characters must be stupid for the plot to work.   And having the richest man in the world whine about not being able to make more money is the the best way to earn my sympathy.  I thought the ending was unecessary.  The story felt resolved to me already, but then it kept going with the idea that he could somehow absorb her power. 

I would also like to cast my vote against the voice acting.  I like Steve's voice, but the accents and womanvoice was distracting.  The effects used for the N+1 and N-1 voices, though were great.

Not a gripe, but was it my imagination or was there a lack of articles in this story?  "We sat in bar.  We had drink. I checked out ass."  Had Silverberg just finished a novel and was running low?  I forgot what country the narator was from, but Russians sometimes speak English without articles.  Was writer representing accent? 

That's a lot of gripes, but I still enjoyed the story very much. 
Quote
I also spent the entire story expecting her to be a cop or a con artist.  I expect this says more about me than the story.

Have a relationship that did not have any ulterior motives was refreshing.
Agreed.

Quote
and for once, a good blend of a story that's both about ideas *and* about people, rather than the stories where SF elements are just window dressing, or where the characters are cardboard cutouts.
Agreed.

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BSWeichsel
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« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2007, 08:55:52 PM »

Good Story interesting abilities namely the girl's never thought of something like that. A Swaying back and forth through time.

Would be interesting to see these powers used in a combat setting.

keep up the good work.
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eytanz
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« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2007, 09:46:51 AM »

Quote
I also spent the entire story expecting her to be a cop or a con artist.  I expect this says more about me than the story.

Have a relationship that did not have any ulterior motives was refreshing.
Agreed.


I actually think this was part of the problem I had with the voice acting. It just never sold the "in love" aspect of the story - it sounded a lot more like someone talking about an ex, still remembering why they loved them, but no longer holding that sentiment. And therefore, it lead me to expect an unhappy ending.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2007, 02:34:15 PM by eytanz » Logged
jeffreyrizzles
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« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2007, 10:43:02 AM »

A couple of ideas in this story that I thought were interesting -
1. I liked the idea of the "n" interval of time constraining which "selves" the narrator could communicate with, although I didn't figure out that that was what was going on until maybe 2/3 of the way through the story (I tend to listen while I'm walking around the city, riding the train, etc.)
2. Whenever a story deals with time travel, there's always the question of how you deal with free will - is the character able to change what happens in the past or future?  This story seemed to fall on the side of positing an unchangeable timeline.  Given that the past and future are inevitable, I thought that the narrator's attitude was appropriate, and I liked the fact that he missed the tranquility of being in contact with his past and future selves.
3. Seline's gift - "swinging" through time - didn't seem as well thought-out.  What does it mean that she "swings" through time?  If she swung back to two seconds ago and she was standing in the same place as before, would the two versions of herself be occupying the same space?  I don't know, I suppose I should just sit back and enjoy the story for what it is.
4. The main conflict of the story hinged on the fact that the narrator couldn't use his ability when in contact with Seline.  Now, I've been crazy about someone to the point that I wanted to be around them quite a lot, but this guy has to sneak around just to go to the bathroom for ten minutes.  That's not really a functional relationship, if you ask me.  In general, I didn't really buy the characters or their motivations.

So overall, a cool idea (which is all that I ask of a SciFi short story) with some slightly annoying holes and inconsistencies, but overall a good listen.  Thanks!!
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