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Author Topic: EP304: Union Dues – Sidekicks in Stockholm  (Read 16964 times)
servicestud
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« on: August 04, 2011, 06:12:14 PM »

Since 304 isnt available yet (And I cant seem to make a new tread), I'll chime in here while I have time.

304: Union Dues - Sidekicks in Stockholm

MOST BESTEST STORY EVAH!
I am a big fan of Union Dues in general but this one just rocked my sox. Thanks! It also inspired me to make a thumbdrive with all the Union Dues stories for my comic-savvy friend who doesn't know of Escape Artists. We'll see how it goes =)


MODS: Please move this to the appropriate thread when it comes up, if possible. Thanks!

Edit: I split it for now. I can't for the life of me get the threads to merge properly. (Talia)

Edit: I merged the topic. I'm afraid I can't do anything about the order of the posts. (Eytan)
« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 02:24:33 AM by eytanz » Logged
Seekerpilgrim
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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2011, 01:57:34 AM »

  This is one of the best episodes in awhile, and far too long since the last Union Dues story. It wasn't as dark as Steve suggested it would be...in fact I found it hopeful that a superhero was doing what was right instead of what was legal. I'm sure we are all aware of the difference between justice and law, and when Atom Smasher walked out he let these moral (if not legal) criminals pay for their crimes instead of paying to avoid them. One of my major problems with Batman lore is how often he allows the Joker to get away with murder because of some moral imperative to never take a life. I submit it's his moral duty to stop the Joker forever and never allow what happened to his parents happen to someone else's. In that aspect, Batman is a hypocrite, but at the end of this episode Atom Smasher proves he is not by allowing justice to take place. If ever a group of criminals was tried by a group of their peers (The Chairman), this was the case. Justice was done, and we could use a bit more of it.
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eytanz
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« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2011, 02:20:42 AM »

EP304: Union Dues – Sidekicks in Stockholm

by Jeffrey R. DeRego

Read by Stephen Eley
An Escape Pod original!

---

Five of them at least, with submachine guns, body armor, and more dynamite than I’ve seen outside a Tom and Jerry cartoon. They all sound the same thanks to some digital vocal thing built into their black suits. They all look the same with black ski masks underneath a mesh sort of fencing helmet, black everything else right to the boots, and all about the same size, like someone took a picture of a terrorist and photocopied it.

This whole drama seems like it began a million years ago by now. I was scheduled to come here and open a convention of business leaders and up-and-coming corporate types. My speech, Good Corporate Citizenship, with examples of how The Union gives back to the communities it serves, is a two year old piece worked up and updated by Marketing and Promotions to accommodate a new administration in Washington, and some new economic stuff that I don’t really understand. I’d delivered only half of the text before these guys burst through the door.


Rated appropriate for older teens and up for language and disturbing imagery.

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Dem
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« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2011, 08:52:04 AM »

Nah, not for me. I don't think I've enjoyed any of the Union Dues stories. They just feel jaded, archetypal, one dimensional, and uninteresting. Should I make an appointment with my doctor, do you think?
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orangerunner
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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2011, 09:25:06 AM »

Hello All,

I have to admit that this is the first time I'm posting on the forums, and I'm really excited to say that it was because of the Union Dues storyline.  I love these stories.  I just started listening to EP a little over a year ago, but I've gone back to listen to all the previous Union Dues stories in the archive. 

So Sidekicks in Stockholm.  I've described this one as "an all you can eat buffet of food for thought" to some of my friends.  One of the things I like in stories is if I can somehow place myself in the situation and think - what would I do?  This story certainly fit that bill.  The idea that Adam Smasher was superstrong but that his power was useless in the scenario made it even easier to do.  This was a moral dilemma.  You can reference the old adage of "does the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?" I suppose.  I think the assumption is that if all those corporate barons were gone, would things change for the better?  Would other power brokers simply take the reins and perhaps even make things worse?  Who knows. 

I think the part of the story that I had the toughest part reconciling was the Stacey character.  Somehow I thought that Adam Smasher was going to save her, but only her.  When he didn't I thought about it, and I think it was the right call for him not to.  That would have involved him in the situation, he would have been making a value judgement on the value of people based on their station.  Maybe if Adam and Stacey were friends or family he would have made sure to save her, but she was just another person.  Heroes can't save everybody.  We have to work together to save ourselves.  Sure if there's a meteor falling from the sky it's great to have somebody who can knock it back into space, but this was a societal issue.  You want to talk about working together for the greater good?  Anybody seen March of the Penguins?  Those little birds don't even have thumbs, yet we need ropes to keep us from cutting in line at the movies and amusement parks.  Maybe someday humanity will learn it's lesson.  Maybe.   

In the meantime this was another great story, and one certainly worth another donation to Escape Pod for all the great sci-fi they bring me every week.   Have a great weekend all!
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childoftyranny
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2011, 09:34:50 AM »

Mostly, I got what I was expecting, when I heard that was hero deconstruction, I figured the story would be what it was.

That's not to say it wasn't well written, it was well read and I think it felt pretty honest.

Yet, it does come down to the end and we see people getting "justice." The CEO that closes a factory and moves jobs to another country is being equated with a murderer here. But lets take a probably more egregious example with the private prison owner, pushing for mandatory minimum sentencing and three strikes laws, who is supposed to have bought off law makers to pass these laws. Again though, morally this means that these people ought to be killed?

These types of stories do make us think, spend a few moment considering how we define justice. We, in the US, have a legal system where its purported that people are guilty until proven innocent which I believe generally means that some who are guilty are going to get off. You could make a different system which operates the other way and generally means that more innocent people are going to jailed because you don't want ANY criminals to escape. Its all sorts of freaky and unnamed shades of grey.

EDIT: Actually, not doing anything to save them because of Union rules, and walking away, why are these two decisions so different, same results.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 09:43:26 AM by childoftyrrany » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2011, 09:56:42 AM »

Union Due and Steve Eley!?!?! Thank you, Escape Pod, thank you for giving me the strength to face the day *wipes a tear away*

  Given how dark most UD stories are (a drug-addicted superhero whose secret identity is a stripper is not exactly bright and sunny), I didn't find this tale all that dark until the very end. I found most of it to be very fun dark comedy... of course I also kept seeing Holly as Meg Whitman, her physical description in the story aside.

  I think this may be my new favourite UD story, and I am still looking forward to a UD TV or graphic novel series.
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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2011, 12:06:15 PM »

This is one of those stories where you can say that you liked the storyeven though you did not like how it ended or how the characters acted.  I don't think we were necessarily suppose to like Adam Smasher's decision.  I am with childoftyrrany in that I question the justice of killing people because they are morally bad.  Yes they should be punished and brought down and this is hard because they are powerful people.  So just kill them and things will be right in the world?  Killing them puts you on the moral high ground?

However, the important thing we are asked to judge is not the actions of the terrorists, but those of Adam Smasher.  Can we blame him for how he reaced?  It does not fit the description of hero, but this universe has an interesting take on the hero to begin with.  This was a dispute between "normals" after all.  So was Adam a coward, taking the easy way out in a complicated situation, or was he just ill-equipped to deal with such a morally ambiguous dilema?  He did nothing and we feel he should have done something, anything.  A good story to ponder.

Some things I didn't like, but understand within the context of the story, is the implication that all corporate executives who make money are corupt and do not contribute back to society.  There are many who are like that, but there are also many who are not.

It was great to hear Steve again!  Hopefully he will drop by more frequently.
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2011, 12:25:14 PM »

It was great to hear Steve again!  Hopefully he will drop by more frequently.
Hear hear! Or is it 'Here here'? No, definitely 'Hear hear'. Fab narration, right in my inbox.  So actually, 'Hear, here' covers it. Grin
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acpracht
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2011, 04:21:53 PM »

I have two things to comment on: the return of Steve and the story itself.
First: Steeeeeeeeeveeeeee! It's funny, I slipped so naturally back into hearing Steve's voice again, that it didn't even register in my brain that he was back until he said his name. Then it was like someone poked me in the ribs and I gasped. I think I even said, "Hi, Steve!" out loud to an empty kitchen.
I love his style and, Steve, we miss hearing you say "Have fun", too.
I was so saddened to hear that the joy the birth of your child was followed so closely by a divorce. You have the support of your EP family.

OK, on to the story. This was really quite good. Like a good Union Dues story it was dark and explored the concepts of heroes and villians and victims in a complex way. In this one, we have no true heroes, no true villians, no true victims. OK, a bit of a qualification on that one, the executive assistant, who has almost certainly been killed, is one person who I don't think got justice, and I cringed that she was killed so brutally.
My one criticism is related to my praise - it was complex. It got so deep and complex that at times I found myself getting lost in the conversation that always seemed almost on the verge of dipping into straight Platonic dialogue. I think it could have pulled up short on a lot of this and let the listener fill in a lot of the logical holes. A little less "Here, let me connect those dots for you."
But like I say, got me thinking, I enjoyed it, and Steve, come back anytime.
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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2011, 04:57:28 PM »

I have two things to comment on: the return of Steve and the story itself.
First: Steeeeeeeeeveeeeee! It's funny, I slipped so naturally back into hearing Steve's voice again, that it didn't even register in my brain that he was back until he said his name. Then it was like someone poked me in the ribs and I gasped. I think I even said, "Hi, Steve!" out loud to an empty kitchen.
I love his style and, Steve, we miss hearing you say "Have fun", too.
I was so saddened to hear that the joy the birth of your child was followed so closely by a divorce. You have the support of your EP family.

OK, on to the story. This was really quite good. Like a good Union Dues story it was dark and explored the concepts of heroes and villians and victims in a complex way. In this one, we have no true heroes, no true villians, no true victims. OK, a bit of a qualification on that one, the executive assistant, who has almost certainly been killed, is one person who I don't think got justice, and I cringed that she was killed so brutally.
My one criticism is related to my praise - it was complex. It got so deep and complex that at times I found myself getting lost in the conversation that always seemed almost on the verge of dipping into straight Platonic dialogue. I think it could have pulled up short on a lot of this and let the listener fill in a lot of the logical holes. A little less "Here, let me connect those dots for you."
But like I say, got me thinking, I enjoyed it, and Steve, come back anytime.

At the risk of derailing any discussion --

I was purposely ambiguous with the ending, but I did consciously pull back from the hostages all being killed... at least I thought i did. I tried to set up that The Chairman would use his gun in a non-gun way, like a pointer, to quiet the room down etc... I wanted Adam to walk away leaving the events in the hostage room unresolved one way or the other... i.e. he washed his hands of them and they had to work out their differences however that was going to happen. I also wanted Adam to effectively equalize everyone in the room, he doesn't understand class differences, and when The Chairman says to Stacy "to him you're all innocents" he isn't editorializing, he's stating a fact.

I needed The Chairman to monologue, all good villains monologue except this one wasn't the same "moohahahahahah take over the world" type monologuing you'd get from a typical villain, I wanted to give Adam a lecture that would appeal to what his sense of right and wrong should be. I wrote a version of this also with The Chairman and Holly's roles reversed, he was a religious/domestic fanatic and she was a progressive political leader, but I couldn't write The Chairman's dialogue in such a way as to sway Adam without making the story into a horror story. So I went with this role set and therefore the Chairman is forced to deconstruct the Normal world for Adam because of his position as leader of the gunmen.

With that I fade back into the shadows to watch the discussion flow on. Thanks for all the comments.
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childoftyranny
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« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2011, 05:22:57 PM »

I was purposely ambiguous with the ending, but I did consciously pull back from the hostages all being killed... at least I thought i did. I tried to set up that The Chairman would use his gun in a non-gun way, like a pointer, to quiet the room down etc...

I can see that in story, though they came in shooting so that is one reason I think that I thought that was going to be at least some of their ends, our dear Chairman doesn't particularly interested in the ransom money, and while he got his way with Atom Smasher, the ending with shots to quiet people down I think indicates more to come, but that is just me. Definite thanks for sharing this one with us!
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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2011, 06:15:50 PM »

I liked it -- not my number one Union Dues story, but still very good.  The politics edged on a little too unsubtle at moments, but it fit (the whole private prison guy would have seemed ridiculous and overdone if I didn't know about the actual real world facts around the same issue -- if it seemed over-the-top to you, check out this two-part investigative report).  I know there are probably those among the audience upset at the lack of anything happening, but I for one enjoy the Union Dues stories that dwell on the broader societal consequences of the setting details.
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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2011, 10:02:30 PM »

Very mixed feelings about this.  I enjoyed having Steve back for a guest hosting, it was good to hear his voice, though I still think that Mur does a wonderful job, and has taken over admirably, filling his shoes and then some.  He did a great job narrating, and the characters were all well done. 

To the story:  Overall, I liked it.  However, there were many swaths of it that seemed manifesto-ey, and not character-driven, but author driven.  I'm not 100% sure of JRD's politics, but this seemed like an excuse to vent some anti-corporation ichor in story form.  Personally, I got the point about 3 minutes into The Chairman's rants, but he kept repeating basically the same thing.  Additionally, the basic subtext of the Union Dues universe was there:  Supers exist, but are slaves to a mega-corporation that reduces them to marketing icons, making them miserable. Almost every UD story has had this subtext, and its gone beyond "world building" to trope.
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ToooooMuchCoffeeMan
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« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2011, 04:37:27 AM »

I think I have three things to say about this:

1. It's really good to hear Steve's voice again. Steve, if you read this, I'm sorry your life has been so "interesting" of late. As I just counseled a friend who's going through a rough divorce, breathe in, breathe out. And as John Irving wrote, keep passing the open windows.

2. It's really good to hear from Jeffrey DeRego again. I'm happy that he's apparently completely recovered from his health problems and in fine voice.

3. About the story, the most effective thing about it was this: Obviously, the Union and the whole concept of superheroes and all it entails is an exaggeration of reality. By contrast, the sins of the CEOs are utterly mundane. Everything that was mentioned, up to and including the operator of private prisons lobbying for stiffer criminal laws, is happening right now, today. It's even true that the real unemployment rate in the USA is getting uncomfortably close to the 20% mentioned in the text.

Fine job all around.
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olivaw
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« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2011, 05:10:48 AM »

So Union Dues is an ongoing / episodic series?
Are they all on Escape Pod? Where's a good place to start?
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Andy C
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« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2011, 08:03:34 AM »

Well this was a fascinating episode, and I'm coming to this as someone who'd never heard of 'Union Dues' before, and hadn't even heard of Stephen Eley.

First, when itunes said 'explicit' I thought we were in for all sorts of really quite spikey language and /or extreme sex or violence. In the end it didn't seem too heavy to me, maybe i am just getting a bit jaded in my old age. Just a bit of an 'f' word in there somewhere was there?

I enjoyed this story, I could tell I was getting in to it when I found myself arguing with all of the characters at different times. Adam, the Chairman, and the rest of them. I did find that the story just lagged slightly i think around 1/2 an hour in; now I think this is slightly because a bit of monologing is  clearly part of the genre here, so fair enough. All the same, there was this five minute period when I wasn't shouting back at the lot of them.

Stacey was a bit of a squeaker at the start, bless her, I was definitely telling her to shut up as I listened to this story on the journey to work.

Good narration, again, I have to say I think all of the narrators at EP do a great job, well done guys!

I was slightly startled by Steve's very candid commentary at the end, including personal details. I guess this might split some people, depending on their outlook and personality. Some people might find this uncomfortable, others might feel compassion for the guy (that's where I'm at) i guess others wouldn't feel very much. Clearly, though from the comments here there's a lot of good will for Steve. So I hope things work out there.

Anyway, this felt different as stories go, and it's a god one - I'd like to hear more of this 'union dues' stuff again in the future.

A


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jrderego
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« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2011, 09:21:17 AM »

So Union Dues is an ongoing / episodic series?
Are they all on Escape Pod? Where's a good place to start?

The stories are stand alone and can be listened to in any order. Just click my name on the main page and I think it brings up all the Union Dues stories that Escape Pod has published. Actually it doesn't, you can keyword search Union Dues on the main page and it'll bring up all the stories and stuff there. Start anywhere, but publication order is -

Iron Bars and the Glass Jaw
Off-White Lies
The Baby and the Bathwater
Cleanup in Aisle 5
Send in the Clowns
All That We Leave Behind
Freedom with a Small f
Tabula Rasa
All About the Sponsors
The Sum of its Parts
The Threnody of Johnny Toruko*
Sidekicks in Stockholm

*If you want to seek out some other stories too because you like these, you can also dig up The Ballad of Kitty Momoiro, The Saga of Tam Suji, and The Sojourn of Taizen Kiiro in the archives of www.clonepod.org which will make the Escape Pod story "The Threnody of Johnny Toruko" make sense as these stories are all more closely linked than the regular Union Dues stories.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 09:26:21 AM by jrderego » Logged

"Happiness consists of getting enough sleep." Robert A. Heinlein
Also, please buy my book - Escape Clause: A Union Dues Novel
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« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2011, 09:30:44 AM »

I enjoyed having Steve back for a guest hosting, it was good to hear his voice, though I still think that Mur does a wonderful job, and has taken over admirably, filling his shoes and then some.

Yes, this is Mur's baby now, okay toddler, and she has taken it to new heights, but it's good to know that Steve will still be available to host/narrate on occasion.  It kind of like when Art Bell guest hosts on Coast to Coast AM.  It doesn't take anything away from George Nory, but it is way cool to hear him again.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 10:25:34 AM by Swamp » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2011, 09:45:54 AM »

So Union Dues is an ongoing / episodic series?
Are they all on Escape Pod? Where's a good place to start?

The stories are stand alone and can be listened to in any order. Just click my name on the main page and I think it brings up all the Union Dues stories that Escape Pod has published. Actually it doesn't, you can keyword search Union Dues on the main page and it'll bring up all the stories and stuff there.

Here they are with links:


And Team Shikaragaki on Clonepod:
Union Dues: The Ballad of Kitty Momoiro - (Clonepod Ep. 11)
Union Dues: The Saga of Tam Suji - (Clonepod Ep. 16)
Union Dues: The Sojourn of Taizen Kiro - (Clonepod Ep. 22)
« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 09:50:13 AM by Swamp » Logged

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« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2011, 02:57:59 PM »


Thanks Swamp Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2011, 04:26:00 PM »

Loved the story and the sentient.  I sympathize with Atom Smasher and feeling like nothing can be done to stop the assholes who are destroying the country and essentially enslaving the masses. I go to work feeling like that every day, go to work and work hard to keep the job that keeps my blood pressure high. 

More Union Dues Please
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« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2011, 05:00:58 PM »

Great to hear Steve's voice again and terrific narration.   I thought the story was good, I get a little sick of corporation bashing but it was justified with the charachters in the story.    I haven't enjoyed that many EP stories lately and was glad to see a UD story pop up in iTunes.  Keep 'em coming, Jeffrey!
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grokman
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« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2011, 07:02:55 PM »

I've been going through a bit of a rough patch lately, but just seeing "Union Dues" on my listening list put a big smile on my face and a spring in my step. Once I started listening, though, and heard Steve's voice, it was like I was transported back in time to a much happier part of my life. As great a job as Mur and the rest have been doing, it's still great to hear from you again, Steve - you've been missed. Hope that the crappy part of your life is behind you soon, and looking forward to hearing you guest host again. And another Union Dues story? YES PLEASE!

About the story - I LOVE LOVE LOVE the ending - was the machine gun noise merely attention-getting? or did the terrorists slaughter all of their hostages? We'll never know, and that's extremely satisfying to me. The Union Dues stories keep getting better and better, and this one might be the best one of all.
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« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2011, 08:32:56 AM »

Like a few others, I squeed a bit when I saw "Union Dues" come up in iTunes, and when I heard Steve's voice, I squeed again. Again, not that Mur isn't doing a bang-up job (and Norm, for that matter), but it's just good to hear his voice again. Smiley

I liked the story, although I figured out pretty quickly where it was going. I do find his abandoning Stacy and the other innocent hostages to the gentle ministrations of The Chairman and his ilk troubling. I can understand why he abandoned the others.

But what really interests me is how the Union will deal with Adam (Atom?) Smasher and how THAT will affect the NEXT story. Which I'm sure we'll hear on Escape Pod. Soon.

(See what I did, there?)
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« Reply #25 on: August 08, 2011, 10:07:21 AM »

Steve Eley!  Good to have you back, my good sir.  I am so sorry to hear about the divorce proceedings.  Hang in there, and hang out with your kids as much as you possibly can.  I'll be thinking of you.

As for the story, I gave it a try, but the soap box monologue sounded like it came straight from the author.  I stuck with it for quite a while, because it's just good to hear Steve's voice again, but eventually I just didn't care to listen to the rest of the monologue and just skipped to the outro to see what else Steve would say.  This was more of a blog post than a story, to me.
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dragonsbreath
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« Reply #26 on: August 08, 2011, 11:22:03 AM »

A good story and it was great to hear Steve again. I liked the story for its attempt to assign moral equivalency between the terrorism of the chairman and the business activities of the assembled hostages. The actions of the so-called Atom-Smasher at the end of the story clearly show that he made that judgement of moral equivalency. Thank goodness it is just a story.

In real life, business leaders have a fiduciary responsibilities to their company and its stockholders. Granted there are exceptions, but most are not monsters or demons. They are paid to make important decisions that impact the livelihoods of their employees. It cannot be an easy decision for an honest CEO to layoff people in a sluggish economy. Nonetheless it must be done if a company as a whole is to survive. There can be no moral equivalency between a honest business leader making tough choices and a gun-toting terrorists shedding innocent blood.
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« Reply #27 on: August 09, 2011, 01:01:10 AM »

I been running into the Union Dues stories as I progress Escape Pod archive chronology. I like the first two but hate the last two. I not keen on deconstructions and this story did not failed to delver it. Moral relativism at its worst by Atom Smasher walking away and leaving innocent life to be stuffed out, and the chairman getting away with calling the CEO evil and what is really evil, the murder of innocent life, good.
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« Reply #28 on: August 09, 2011, 12:03:00 PM »

Union Dues stories have traditionally been more gritty, and this is certainly no different.

Union Dues has, and continues to show us the 'other side' of being a modern day super hero.  This shows us more of the inside of our super hero, the realization of how exploited he is, how being a hero isn't as parades and comic books as one might believe.
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« Reply #29 on: August 09, 2011, 01:31:19 PM »

I haven't heard all of the Union Dues stories yet, but I've heard enough that I got excited when I saw the title on my ipod screen. Then the unexpected thrill of hearing Steve's voice again and all of a sudden the extremely unenjoyable experiment I was working on ceased to matter. Smiley

I feel conflicted because I think that this was a well-written, compelling story and I'm really glad to have heard it. I like all of the questions that it opens up about who/what is to blame when a corporation makes the tough decisions not to mention who/what can we really hold responsible for those decisions and how can we fairly respond to both real and perceived wrongs. Not to mention what is the role of the super in a world of very "normal" disputes.

On the other hand, while I do understand the "there he goes monologuing again" device (that's one of my favorite schticks from The Incredibles") I reacted negatively to it while listening to this story. I can recognize why it was important to put the Chairman up on his soapbox in order to tell this story effectively, but I prefer to hear lectures when I turn on Planet Money, not Escape Pod.



Well this was a fascinating episode, and I'm coming to this as someone who'd never heard of 'Union Dues' before, and hadn't even heard of Stephen Eley.

........

I was slightly startled by Steve's very candid commentary at the end, including personal details. I guess this might split some people, depending on their outlook and personality. Some people might find this uncomfortable, others might feel compassion for the guy (that's where I'm at) i guess others wouldn't feel very much. Clearly, though from the comments here there's a lot of good will for Steve. So I hope things work out there.


That's just Steve for you, once you've heard enough of his intros/outros from the backlog you'll start to feel like he's an old friend. Smiley
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« Reply #30 on: August 09, 2011, 05:20:01 PM »

This is my first forum post here at Escape Artist, I love hearing what people think of the shows (and have skimmed the forums on a blue moon) but I'm just not a big forum person, it takes a lot to get me to register for a forum.  i used to comment a lot on the blog before the forums... but that was long ago.

I had to create and account and post here today because not only was I thrilled when I heard there was a new Union Dues story in the feed (yet I still took forever to listen to it, I needed to be undistracted so I waited for the right moment) because of course I'm subscribed to everything related to Union Dues Smiley  I just love this series.

I was so happy to hear Steve as the narrator, Steve narrating Union Dues is like Peanut Butter and jelly, a perfect combo. (and a nostalgic one)
When Steve said it would be dark, he didn't lie.  Then again, all these stories are a bit dark, it's one of the reasons I like them.  In this story I think we can relate to the superhero extremely well.  He's just a guy stuck in a job and he has no choices about what he's going to do with his life, what to wear and he is never allowed to even have an opinion or a stance of his own.  There is a feeling of hopelessness about him that I find really compelling.

As for the ending... oddly that's not even on my top three points of interest in this story, I saw a lot of posts about it though, it felt to me a very natural way to end the story.  I stopped thinking about the room of hostages and was empathizing with Adam.

thanks so much Escape Artist and Jeff, more like this makes me a happy Nutty.
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« Reply #31 on: August 09, 2011, 05:22:24 PM »

PS: Swamp, great links list
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« Reply #32 on: August 09, 2011, 05:34:13 PM »

I've gone through the back-catalogue of Union Dues, and enjoyed them greatly. Thanks!

I think I appreciated Sidekicks more having heard them, too. A story about an anonymous super abandoning his duties is less interesting than a story about a well-known super abandoning his duties, or, in this case, the consequences of a well-known system leading to a super to abandon his duties.

I don't think we're being asked to agree with the Chairman's point of view, but to see the pressures that lead Adam to accede to it.
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« Reply #33 on: August 10, 2011, 08:23:44 AM »

I was slightly startled by Steve's very candid commentary at the end, including personal details. I guess this might split some people, depending on their outlook and personality. Some people might find this uncomfortable, others might feel compassion for the guy (that's where I'm at) i guess others wouldn't feel very much. Clearly, though from the comments here there's a lot of good will for Steve. So I hope things work out there.

Anyway, this felt different as stories go, and it's a god one - I'd like to hear more of this 'union dues' stuff again in the future.

A

Well, Steve always had a habit (knack) of reaching out and touching your own life with his personal remarks, I know that a lot of people found that, usually totally unexpectedly.

As the story ended my ipod moved on to the next track in my playlist - Simple Minds "Don't you forget about me" - from the "Breakfast Club" soundtrack. Steve - as the father of a soon to be 21 year old who has turned into a fine young man despite his Mom and I divorcing when he was 2 - be the best Dad you can and always remember you have plenty friends here on the forum. You're never alone with Escape Pod!


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« Reply #34 on: August 10, 2011, 09:57:07 AM »

I always get itchy when people complain about stories having meanings. But then, I also get itchy when people confuse 'politics' -- a term with connotations that issues under that banner only affect people in government or administrative roles -- with 'systemic moral crisis', which affects society at large and which I think is a much more accurate description of the issues raised in this story.

I'm sure I'm not the only one here to notice that all of the Union Dues stories are commentaries on the "state of the union". This one is more direct than most, but DeRego has always used his stories as an opportunity to share things that concern him deeply with people that would otherwise be inclined to ignore the reality. He's trying to be entertaining and polite about driving a point that obviously concerns him passionately. One's disagreement does not negate the quality of the story.

My chief complaint is that Mr. Smasher is a typical DeRego muscle-head super. I fancy that if supers existed, and if they gathered under some kind of common management, then there might be some standard of intelligence built into membership, or that a certain level of education be required before activating one so that situations like this could be resolved more quickly. Even if the given super were that vacuous, a company would require defined moral positions and reward or punish an employee for their acting in consideration of those definitions. I would guess that a vigilante attempt to judge and execute outside of a court would be a clear violation of that code and that a more 'realistic' response by a super would be to halt the action in progress, and then if they agreed with the spirit of the illegal action, maybe they let the villain get some camera time on the way out the door or take care of it in some more creative way. After all, what's more fun than a super-creative 'just-deserts' ending?

To Steve, it was great to hear you again. I'm sorry to hear about the events in your life, but I thank you for sharing them. I think when you were leaving, some of us suspected something like this was the case and it's a huge comfort to us to know that it wasn't something even worse and that you're finding your way to the other side of what is surely one of life's most difficult 'before this/after this' moments. I respect your vision and the man your actions and commentaries have led me to envision you to be. I would offer you my shoulder any time, and I dare say you'd get the same invitation from most anyone here.
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« Reply #35 on: August 10, 2011, 10:25:27 AM »

I thought this was a great story. I enjoy a super hero story as much as the next person, but the analytical portion of my brain has always had a disconnect with them. At the same moment that part of my brain is saying, "Awesome building explosion!", another part of my brain is wondering who is going to rebuild, the costs associated, and where those people are going to do their day to day jobs in the mean time, since the super hero/villain probably isn't going to be hanging out at the local food bank afterwards.

I think that the hero here did the right thing. There were no super villains, or extreme circumstances. Except for the guns (and the guns were played down well i think with the way the Chairman handled the weapon, more as tool, and not inexpertly), this was largely a civil dispute. If the Union sends the Smasher, or another super, in to deal with the situation that is different. Just by being part of the situation, he was making it more dangerous for the other hostages. There was the constant threat of dramatic escalation. With him walking out, the hostages would have stopped thinking about participating in a violent response. Super, by the very definition, is not involved with mundane.

I am often times glad there are no super heroes in our reality, because that would bring the counter-balance of super villains, and the chaos that causes. I enjoy the escapism of fiction, but I also like knowing that the trip I planned to (insert favorite vacation spot here) for next year has a high probability of happening, or that the office building I (unfortunately) work in will likely still be there, not trampled by a gigantic robot from outer space. Smiley

(i secretly believe that in a universe with perpetual super villains/alien robots, society would find ways to decentralize, minimizing damage, not continue to gather in urban/high density targets environments)
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« Reply #36 on: August 10, 2011, 10:56:44 AM »

Great story, great read, great to hear from Steve again.

When i first started listening to EP I heard this odd voice with a delivery that was slightly off and he shared too much of his personal life. As growth and familiarity occurred, Steve became a voice and commentary I looked forward to hearing week after week.

When Steve stepped away from EP, I felt as though I had a lost a friend and adviser.
It is always wonderful to hear from him again. Like meeting up with a long lost friend where the conversation picks up like it never was gone.
Steve and Union Dues is an unbeatable combo.

well done Steve
well done Jeffrey
well done EP

well done
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« Reply #37 on: August 10, 2011, 11:12:29 AM »

The UD stories have always been hit or miss for me.  I generally enjoy them most when they are at their most personal, when we explore the internal life of a specific character.  This story was primarily a couple of political cartoons yelling at each other while our viewpoint character periodically chimed in to tell us how confused he was.  The ending was a nice touch, and it was a fairly effective gut-punch for the paragon to just go, "Ah, fuck it," but it would have been a lot stronger, to me, without most of the preceding Socratic dialogue (assuming Socrates was a bipolar Randian).  Perhaps I encounter too much of this sort of thing in my daily life, but this story was mostly retreads of old, old political arguments, and even within the story there was no hope that either side would listen much to the other.  The only potential for change was our overgrown naif of a protagonist, and he ends up just chucking the whole spiel in the garbage.  I empathize with the sentiment, but I would have been happier if I hadn't had to listen to the argument for the umpteenth time first.

This one's not my favorite, but I'd still buy a Union Dues collection for the list price.  ;-)
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« Reply #38 on: August 10, 2011, 05:42:49 PM »

This one's not my favorite, but I'd still buy a Union Dues collection for the list price.  ;-)


coming soon...
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« Reply #39 on: August 10, 2011, 11:30:29 PM »

I've always enjoyed the Union Dues stories, they're a fairly unique take on the standard superhero genre. I have to say, though, I was very disappointed in Sidekicks in Stockholm. The story started well, setting up a standard hostage story, and I was looking forward to seeing the author's creative resolution to the story. I wasn't expecting a bald faced political rant about the evils of corporations, and a fairly standard and boring one at that. The ending especially bothered me. The image of a "superhero" simply passing judgement on the victims, even lowly workers that by the authors own standards were victims of the evil corporate heads, then walking away leaving them to the tender mercy of their murderers. One of the things that make superhero's super is that they defend the citizens equally. They don't serve the rich or the poor or the majority or the minority, they look past that and see human beings. Instead he looked at them and decided to support the murderers instead of the hostages. Especially in a time of religious, political and socially motivated terrorism, the message that murder and hostage taking is ever justified is horrific. By supporting the murderers over the victims, the author clearly staked out his position that terrorism, murder and violence can be justified if the criminals think their "enemies" are evil enough.

Oh, and as much as I've enjoyed hearing Mur and Norm over the past several months, it was a lot of fun to have Steve back on the podcast  Smiley
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« Reply #40 on: August 11, 2011, 01:03:01 AM »

I did not like this story. As this is a forum, I will, of course, tell you why.

I kept waiting for some twist in the situation. I got very bored while the Chairman regurgitated The Shock Doctrine and very annoyed at Adam's inertness, both of which sucked any tension or jeopardy out of the situation. All I kept thinking of was better hostage situation stories.

This ties into my opinion of the Union Dues stories in general. The opening narration introduces this story as a "superhero deconstruction". So, how does this story fit within that genre?

Listening to this and the other Union Dues stories, I get the distinct impression that they're written by and for people who haven't read Watchmen or The Boys or Wanted or Kick-Ass or The Authority or Marshall Law or Planetary or many, many other titles... basically, someone who hasn't read a superhero comic since 1985 or so, someone whose ideas about superheroes are still in the Silver age, someone who is unfamiliar with superhero deconstruction as a genre and thinks nobody has ever made these criticisms before.

It's like some guy thinking he's clever because he asks, "If Superman had sex with Lois Lane, wouldn't he kill her?" and he doesn't realize Larry Niven covered the same question back in the 1960s.

Superheroes as celebrities/athletes? Been done. Superheroes not going after structural inequality? Been done. Superheroes as politically retrograde and hopelessly commercialized and burdened with juvenile sexuality? Been done. Even the ending of this story is a riff on Watchmen, when Dr. Manhattan says, "Screw the human condition. I'm going to go study rocks on Mars. Enjoy your nuclear holocaust."

The only real novelty here is that it is in prose, not comics, format.

Every Union Dues story, I wait for the other shoe to drop, for something to take a stand against the Union. That's the story I want to see. I keep getting disappointed.
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« Reply #41 on: August 11, 2011, 07:11:06 AM »

I've been reading these replies for several days, and I think maybe some people are missing a very important point. Just because the characters in the story say something does NOT mean that the author espouses the same opinion. I know that when I write a character's dialogue, I try to write what that character believes. Sometimes, that is counter to what I believe, especially when I'm writing a villain.

He has the super in this story come to the realization that he's been used for his entire life, and he turns his back on his responsibility. He (the character) also realizes that his presence is making it impossible for the hostages to understand the danger they're in and that perhaps there is a nonviolent solution (OK, not very likely, but...). They--unreasonably, in this case, since Smasher's hands are tied, and if he makes any action against the terrorists, hostages will die--expect him to be the Deus ex Machina and save their bacon, so they're not even paying attention to what the terrorists (am I the only one who thought they bore a resemblance to Anonymous?) are demanding. Which were certainly unreasonable demands, don't get me wrong (lest you conclude that I espouse terrorism, as well). I think the helplessness of the situation was explained quite thoroughly within the story. This is not a story of the merits of terrorism. This is a story of one man coming to the realization that he's been duped (by the Union and, as it turns out, by the terrorists), the decision he comes to, and the disastrous implications that's going to have.

Does DeRego believe that terrorists are right and that hostage-taking is a good thing? I strongly suspect not. He's set up a situation in which one of his super characters has to make a difficult decision based on a lot of wrong or simply missing information. The terrorists manipulate him, and it's made clear that Smasher is not all that bright. Were he a super strategist, perhaps he could have come up with a better solution.

That decision will have disastrous repercussions on his pyramid, his reputation, the entire Union, etc. What this story does--in my humble opinion--is set up the groundwork for a potential future war among factions in the Union itself--not to mention repercussions against the Union by the public. Smasher isn't going to keep his mouth shut, nor is the press. Smasher's not just going to go meekly back to work, not that anyone would let him after this fiasco. They're going to lock him up in Antarctica. With lots of other supers who have gotten the shaft for one reason or another. And now they can't even replace the Adam Smasher character with another Johnny Bravo who happens to fit the suit and just smooth things over.

Someone upstream said they keep waiting for someone to take a stand against the Union? I have a feeling you're about to.
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« Reply #42 on: August 11, 2011, 08:49:20 AM »

I always get itchy when people complain about stories having meanings. But then, I also get itchy when people confuse 'politics' -- a term with connotations that issues under that banner only affect people in government or administrative roles -- with 'systemic moral crisis', which affects society at large and which I think is a much more accurate description of the issues raised in this story.

I'm sure I'm not the only one here to notice that all of the Union Dues stories are commentaries on the "state of the union". This one is more direct than most, but DeRego has always used his stories as an opportunity to share things that concern him deeply with people that would otherwise be inclined to ignore the reality. He's trying to be entertaining and polite about driving a point that obviously concerns him passionately. One's disagreement does not negate the quality of the story.

I mostly agree that one's disagreement with a story's message does not negate the quality of the story (although I think that if you read a story that, say, promoted the reintroduction of slavery to modern culture, that one would be hard pressed to hold to this point) .  However, when the bulk of the story is a bloated monologue making points that plenty of other people have made before, my dislike of that doesn't have anything to do with disagreement to a message, but that has to do with the quality of the story itself.  It wouldn't matter if the terrorists' points were indisputably right, or even if they were indisputably wrong.  It's still an extremely long monologue making points that I've heard before from many different people.  It's not that I find the points offensive, but that I could have Googled a political blog and found near the exact sentiments and explanation.  I'd be more interested if the message were novel, or if it had had something compelling to support the message instead of structuring it all as a blog post style rant.
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« Reply #43 on: August 11, 2011, 08:53:37 AM »

I'd argue the story was more about the protagonist's character arc and his ultimate decision to take no action than about the politics of the terrorists and/or the businesspeople. The politics were the framework that allowed him to evolve from this sheltered guy into someone who's beginning to see the world's not as black and white as he thought it was – and who isn't liking it. That's what I got from it, anyway.
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« Reply #44 on: August 11, 2011, 04:45:50 PM »

I agree with both Talia and Unblinking; the story's primary point is when Adam Smasher decides not to involve himself in the conflict at all, thus deciding against both sides rather than choosing to champion one against the other.  However, most of the story is just a reiteration of the two sides rather than an exploration of what it is in Adam's personality that would lead him to that decision, hence the significant minority of people who object to the structure of the story.  Most people haven't objected to the content of the rants so much as the fact that most of the story IS the rants.  As I said, I would rather have seen a deeper personal exploration of the characters.

FWIW, I am a bit of a comics fan and thoroughly versed in the literature of comics deconstruction (though I tend to prefer the post-deconstruction nostalgia-tinted stuff like Astro City and PS238, where the authors acknowledge the limitations of the Silver Age tone while still focusing on telling a story in that kind of world rather than kicking that world in the twig and berries), and I do not find the UD stories to be necessarily unaware of that body of work.  I would agree that my least favorite UD stories tend to be the ones leaning more heavily toward the abstract deconstruction work, such as "Stockholm," but it's also true that superhero text-based literature is a relatively thin and unexplored field compared to comics, and thus I don't feel it's necessarily wasted effort to review some of the same lessons that the deconstruction of the Dark Ages taught us.

(I would also like to take a moment to recommend Brian Vaughan's "Ex Machina" to anyone who likes layered post-deconstructed superhero literature.  Definitely a modern superhero story rather than a revisitation or deconstruction of the Silver Age.)
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« Reply #45 on: August 11, 2011, 09:25:47 PM »

And just in case you thought the things in this story don't actually happen in the real world, I bring you this tasty little bit of news...
http://delcotimes.com/articles/2011/08/11/news/doc4e43e53aaf10c938631271.txt

"a former County Judge ... has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for accepting nearly $1 million in bribes ... from the builder of two youth detention centers while he was sending young offenders to the lockups."
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« Reply #46 on: August 12, 2011, 07:53:29 AM »

And just in case you thought the things in this story don't actually happen in the real world, I bring you this tasty little bit of news...
http://delcotimes.com/articles/2011/08/11/news/doc4e43e53aaf10c938631271.txt

"a former County Judge ... has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for accepting nearly $1 million in bribes ... from the builder of two youth detention centers while he was sending young offenders to the lockups."
Yep. And there is larger suspicion that the new Arizona laws that would make the Gestapo pee themselves with glee were heavily influenced by money from corporations who own jails because tough laws mean more clients and more government money for them. Go privatization!
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« Reply #47 on: August 12, 2011, 08:44:43 AM »

I'd argue the story was more about the protagonist's character arc and his ultimate decision to take no action than about the politics of the terrorists and/or the businesspeople. The politics were the framework that allowed him to evolve from this sheltered guy into someone who's beginning to see the world's not as black and white as he thought it was – and who isn't liking it. That's what I got from it, anyway.

You could be entirely right, but that didn't happen til the very end, after all the rest of the ranting.  If all of the original and compelling part of the story is in the last few minutes, it makes the rest of it rather hard to sit through.
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« Reply #48 on: August 12, 2011, 04:54:04 PM »

Having the writer of Union Dues respond directly to me comments=completely making my day.
That is all.
-Adam
(Not the one in the story... actually me... Tongue)

I have two things to comment on: the return of Steve and the story itself.
First: Steeeeeeeeeveeeeee! It's funny, I slipped so naturally back into hearing Steve's voice again, that it didn't even register in my brain that he was back until he said his name. Then it was like someone poked me in the ribs and I gasped. I think I even said, "Hi, Steve!" out loud to an empty kitchen.
I love his style and, Steve, we miss hearing you say "Have fun", too.
I was so saddened to hear that the joy the birth of your child was followed so closely by a divorce. You have the support of your EP family.

OK, on to the story. This was really quite good. Like a good Union Dues story it was dark and explored the concepts of heroes and villians and victims in a complex way. In this one, we have no true heroes, no true villians, no true victims. OK, a bit of a qualification on that one, the executive assistant, who has almost certainly been killed, is one person who I don't think got justice, and I cringed that she was killed so brutally.
My one criticism is related to my praise - it was complex. It got so deep and complex that at times I found myself getting lost in the conversation that always seemed almost on the verge of dipping into straight Platonic dialogue. I think it could have pulled up short on a lot of this and let the listener fill in a lot of the logical holes. A little less "Here, let me connect those dots for you."
But like I say, got me thinking, I enjoyed it, and Steve, come back anytime.

At the risk of derailing any discussion --

I was purposely ambiguous with the ending, but I did consciously pull back from the hostages all being killed... at least I thought i did. I tried to set up that The Chairman would use his gun in a non-gun way, like a pointer, to quiet the room down etc... I wanted Adam to walk away leaving the events in the hostage room unresolved one way or the other... i.e. he washed his hands of them and they had to work out their differences however that was going to happen. I also wanted Adam to effectively equalize everyone in the room, he doesn't understand class differences, and when The Chairman says to Stacy "to him you're all innocents" he isn't editorializing, he's stating a fact.

I needed The Chairman to monologue, all good villains monologue except this one wasn't the same "moohahahahahah take over the world" type monologuing you'd get from a typical villain, I wanted to give Adam a lecture that would appeal to what his sense of right and wrong should be. I wrote a version of this also with The Chairman and Holly's roles reversed, he was a religious/domestic fanatic and she was a progressive political leader, but I couldn't write The Chairman's dialogue in such a way as to sway Adam without making the story into a horror story. So I went with this role set and therefore the Chairman is forced to deconstruct the Normal world for Adam because of his position as leader of the gunmen.

With that I fade back into the shadows to watch the discussion flow on. Thanks for all the comments.
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« Reply #49 on: August 12, 2011, 09:21:39 PM »

I did find this story enjoyable, despite it's mostly monologue nature. There were, in fact, a few places where I laughed out loud.

However, I am surprised by some people's assertions that the end was surprising or that it will cause lot of grief in the Union. As a few people have already pointed out, non-involvement with normals problems has *always* been a main tenant of the Union.
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« Reply #50 on: August 16, 2011, 03:02:20 PM »

I'm sure I'm not the only one here to notice that all of the Union Dues stories are commentaries on the "state of the union". This one is more direct than most, but DeRego has always used his stories as an opportunity to share things that concern him deeply with people that would otherwise be inclined to ignore the reality. He's trying to be entertaining and polite about driving a point that obviously concerns him passionately. One's disagreement does not negate the quality of the story.

Therein lies the rub.  I don't think he succeeded in being entertaining while driving home a point.  For me, the entertainment comes first. 

And I actually agree with him on the point he was trying to make, but this story seemed closer to a blog post than a short story.
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« Reply #51 on: August 17, 2011, 10:52:32 AM »

I admit I skimmed much of the discussion up til now (I'm quite behind on all my podcasts), but am I the only one who noticed the MC trying to understand what was going on but just not being able to get his head around it? I mean, if he can lead a team he's clearly not an idiot, but what kind of programming did the Union put in him to make it so difficult for him to wrap his head around what the Chairman was saying.

I did get a little tired of the proselytizing, and I also got the feeling that the MC was the true target of the terrorists? Turn one super, strike fear into the hearts of the populace when the others come to rescue them?

One thing that really bothered me was the discussion over who becomes the CEO of a large company. It's totally true. You start a company, it either gets bought or fails, and you go to a new one, which is bigger, which fails or you get headhunted, and so on up the ladder. Rarely do rank-and-file workers become more than directors or mid-level VPs anymore, I think in part because of how quickly we all change jobs. I just left a 10,000-person company to join a 1000-person one (actually we might be closer to 500, but LinkedIn says 500-1000). Despite being smaller, with more fighting for positions, it's actually possible to move up here. Managers become Directors, Directors become VPs, and so on.

But yeah, the system is broken in terms of reward-by-promotion. And, really, the higher you get, the less fun you can have making Widgets (or whatever).

So, a decent but heavy-handed story with a little too much repetition for my taste.
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« Reply #52 on: August 17, 2011, 11:26:30 AM »

But yeah, the system is broken in terms of reward-by-promotion. And, really, the higher you get, the less fun you can have making Widgets (or whatever).

I agree with that sentiment!  I'm an engineer because I like being an engineer.  I have no desire to be a manager or a VP.  The Manager position for our group opened up last year and everyone internally was given the opportunity to apply, but I just have no interest in that.
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Kaa
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« Reply #53 on: August 17, 2011, 12:31:15 PM »

I'm an engineer because I like being an engineer.  I have no desire to be a manager or a VP.  The Manager position for our group opened up last year and everyone internally was given the opportunity to apply, but I just have no interest in that.

Wow. I was beginning to think I was the only one.
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« Reply #54 on: August 17, 2011, 10:11:24 PM »

I'm an engineer because I like being an engineer.  I have no desire to be a manager or a VP.  The Manager position for our group opened up last year and everyone internally was given the opportunity to apply, but I just have no interest in that.

Wow. I was beginning to think I was the only one.

Nope. Not in the least.
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« Reply #55 on: August 18, 2011, 12:17:11 PM »

Great story, great read, and Steve, keep going, best wishes to you
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« Reply #56 on: August 19, 2011, 06:02:14 PM »

Mr. DeRego has long been a favorite of mine for his Union Dues stories. He brings a unique taste to comic book superheroes and the ideas of heroes, villains, victims, and innocents are important topics along with the idea of the politics that usually pervade the stories, whether they are modern, real-life politics or the politics of the Union itself.

What I like most about these stories is how we are forced to look at our heroes. Every hero is only human (gifted with super powers or not), yet we expect so much from them since they've already shown us that they are ready to sacrifice (or as in the case of the Union and other such stories, they've been found to have talents which can be exploited... er, " be made useful for the betterment of society"). So we expect them to give up EVERYTHING. By calling someone a hero, we recognize their overcoming of the instinctual "I have to survive" with the conscious decision for "the good of the group comes first, even if I have to sacrifice for them." Yet, here in the Union Dues universe, heroes aren't heroic all the time. Just as other normal people, they get caught in their own lives, their own problems, their own struggles. They make mistakes and sometimes they say, "Screw you guys! I'm going home!" to all the rest of us. We want them to rescue us. We want them to send all the bad guys to jail by the end of the day. We want somebody to make the hard choices for us. We don't want and sometimes can't handle the responsibility of these choices. We want someone to blame if it all goes wrong. It sucks when they say, "You're on your own. Deal with it." In the failure of these super-powered people, Mr. DeRego does an excellent job of allowing us to fit in their shoes and ask ourselves, "What would I have done? Could I have been a hero?"

On the point of the politics themselves, I think that it would have logical for a terrorist to go all soap-boxey on us to espouse his agenda. He wants you to agree with him. He wants you on his side. He wants to convince you that he's actually saving you from the evil on the other side. So yeah, it seems heavy-handed, but wouldn't an extremist act pretty extremely?

I'll get off my soap-box now. Anyone else want a turn on the box? You can see most of the crowd from up there.
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« Reply #57 on: August 19, 2011, 08:22:46 PM »

I have to admit that the character I sympathized with most was probably the Chairman. God knows I sometimes feel like taking up the black mask and machine gun. To be honest, I sometimes see every day I spend teaching as a bullet, chambered and aimed at the head of the establishment. Sometimes it's the only way to survive. More often than not, it seems like America wants to force my kids to die or spend their lives working crap jobs or rotting in prison, always lining someone else's pockets.

I wanted Adam Smasher to do more than walk away - I wanted him to join the terrorists. Revolution!
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« Reply #58 on: August 19, 2011, 10:49:30 PM »

I have to admit that the character I sympathized with most was probably the Chairman. God knows I sometimes feel like taking up the black mask and machine gun. To be honest, I sometimes see every day I spend teaching as a bullet, chambered and aimed at the head of the establishment. Sometimes it's the only way to survive. More often than not, it seems like America wants to force my kids to die or spend their lives working crap jobs or rotting in prison, always lining someone else's pockets.

I wanted Adam Smasher to do more than walk away - I wanted him to join the terrorists. Revolution!
In other words: Electric Paladin is more left than you  Grin
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aesculapius
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« Reply #59 on: August 20, 2011, 01:42:37 PM »

Too overtly political in an obvious way. I was really disappointed, considering I usually love the UD series.
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« Reply #60 on: August 21, 2011, 02:46:56 AM »

In other words: Electric Paladin is more left than you  Grin

That has been well established :-)
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« Reply #61 on: August 21, 2011, 09:05:41 AM »

In other words: Electric Paladin is more left than you  Grin

That has been well established :-)

Unless you're jrderego, who is the author of this story.
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« Reply #62 on: August 21, 2011, 04:37:07 PM »

Steve + UD = Infinite Awesome.
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« Reply #63 on: August 23, 2011, 01:25:47 PM »

Damn it's good to hear Mr. Eley's voice.  Thank you - I will have fun. 

That is all.
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ajames
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« Reply #64 on: August 25, 2011, 06:31:43 AM »

Long time listener, first time poster - well, first time in awhile at least  Grin.

Steve, this will sound corny, but it is heart-felt. I love you, man. You seemed to have some doubts that you've made much of a difference in this life - you have. Never doubt that, and never forget it. I know you aren't looking for support or validation from me, but I'm giving it to you anyways.

Jeffrey, I loved the story. I do hope to find out how the Union deals with this PR disaster, and how Atom/Adam deals with his actions/inactions sometime soon.

Peace out Escapepod people.
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El Barto
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« Reply #65 on: August 26, 2011, 07:36:38 PM »

I was so excited to hear Steve's voice I nearly fell off my bike.   It would make me very happy if he narrated stories from time to time, and I was sad to hear of his personal struggles but hopefully he knows that if he ever needs anything at all he can just say the word and watch us come together to help him in the real world.

This Union Dues story was definitely polarizing.  I didn't much enjoy the long speech because I am very familiar with the narrative and was disappointed by the lack of counterpoint.  The corporate weasels were one-dimensional and failed to make any coherent arguments for their actions, some of which are quite defensible.  (Layoffs stink but there are plenty of times when companies fail to make layoffs and then a year or two later they go out of business and everyone loses their job instead of just 30% of the employees.)

I was also puzzled about the Chairman letting the superhero just walk out.  I suppose the chairman could say that he "won" by "turning" the superhero's opinion, but I got the feeling earlier on that he wanted the superhero as a hostage.   And in that case the Chairman could have easily threatened to kill one of the innocent people in the room, assuming there was at least one.

So, not my favorite Union Dues story, but as they say, a so-so day of fishing beats workin' anytime.
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« Reply #66 on: August 26, 2011, 09:16:09 PM »

I know there are probably those among the audience upset at the lack of anything happening,...
I missed the part where nothing happened. Where was it?

It's like some guy thinking he's clever because he asks, "If Superman had sex with Lois Lane, wouldn't he kill her?" and he doesn't realize Larry Niven covered the same question back in the 1960s.
We're looking at you, Kevin Smith.  Tongue

I wanted Adam Smasher to do more than walk away - I wanted him to join the terrorists. Revolution!
In other words: Electric Paladin is more left than you  Grin
I thought it was "Electric Paladin has a bigger liberal dick than you".

My only comment: Cool story, bro!
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« Reply #67 on: September 12, 2011, 03:03:59 AM »

Definitely enjoyed this one. Yeah, the corporate characters where abit one dimensional, but it was still a good listen; I especially enjoyed the way the Chairman reacted to the Super revieling how poor the terms and conditions of his 'job' (indentured servitude) are.
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« Reply #68 on: September 14, 2011, 04:53:28 PM »

I somehow missed this story when it was new, so rather than get involved in the previous comments, I'll just share my impressions.

I like how the story recalled retro science fiction and superhero serials, and yet had a story that was morally ambiguous. I must admit that I did see Adam Smasher's move from the very beginning, but that did not detract from my enjoyment. It was the essence of the story, not the particulars (terrorist with a political message versus one-dimensional big corporate types.... OK, like I've never heard that one before) which compelled me.

My favorite moment was Adam Smasher's realization that he was basically an indentured servant. This had special resonance for me, because I am just ending a term in the Marine Corps. Particularly the part about spending your own meager wages on uniforms and equipment. Yeah, paying $10 a week to get the same high-and-tight haircut got old real fast. Not to mention the frequent uniform inspections which require new items, trips to the dry cleaner, etc.... I could identify with Adam Smasher in a very specific way here.
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« Reply #69 on: September 19, 2011, 10:23:19 AM »

Always love a good Union Dues story. More Union Dues please!
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« Reply #70 on: September 29, 2011, 02:18:28 PM »

I'd like to read about the aftermath of this situation.  The intervention of the union for publicity's sake after the incident.  "Adam Smasher Ignores Hostage Situation" won't be a great newspaper headline.  Does the union punish him?  Is he sent to the island to rot?  I really enjoyed his complete ignorance of the issues surrounding his speech.  I think it's one of my favorite tropes of the UD series, the memory cues implanted by the union to all of the supers, all of these titans of human capacity being completely subdued by bureaucracy and conduct.  I think Adam Smasher made a courageous decision by ... Well... Making a decision.  Sure it might not be as "right" as he might think it is, but who's to say it's "wrong"?
Loved loved loved it!
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« Reply #71 on: September 25, 2017, 03:51:02 AM »

Hi everyone! This is my first post here in the forum. I've discovered Escape Pod last year, and I've been listening to EVERY single story in succession. Just finished episode 304! *whew* I'm halfway there!

I've avoided joining the forums until now because I didn't want any spoilers about what's been happening with the hosts. (Like what's been going on with Serah after I just heard Steve narrate Sidekicks in Stockholm.)

The thing is, I'm a big fan of Union Dues, and I tried to look up the 1800gounion website. The website is down, and it looks like episode 304 is the last Union Dues story on Escape pod. Also, I don't have access to Google, Facebook, or many other social media sites here in China, so I can't seem to find any updated info on Jeffrey R. Derego. Does anyone know what happened with him and the series? Is this it?
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« Reply #72 on: September 25, 2017, 06:51:04 AM »

Hi everyone! This is my first post here in the forum. I've discovered Escape Pod last year, and I've been listening to EVERY single story in succession. Just finished episode 304! *whew* I'm halfway there!

I've avoided joining the forums until now because I didn't want any spoilers about what's been happening with the hosts. (Like what's been going on with Serah after I just heard Steve narrate Sidekicks in Stockholm.)

The thing is, I'm a big fan of Union Dues, and I tried to look up the 1800gounion website. The website is down, and it looks like episode 304 is the last Union Dues story on Escape pod. Also, I don't have access to Google, Facebook, or many other social media sites here in China, so I can't seem to find any updated info on Jeffrey R. Derego. Does anyone know what happened with him and the series? Is this it?


Here's a quote Mr. DeRego posted on Goodreads a couple of weeks ago about his current projects:

Quote
Right now I am pulling together a couple of projects. One is a new Union Dues story to finally tie in and close out the Team Shikaragaki stories that will be part of a new volume of stories that I'll be publishing down the road.
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« Reply #73 on: September 25, 2017, 11:41:05 AM »

Hi everyone! This is my first post here in the forum. I've discovered Escape Pod last year, and I've been listening to EVERY single story in succession. Just finished episode 304! *whew* I'm halfway there!

I've avoided joining the forums until now because I didn't want any spoilers about what's been happening with the hosts. (Like what's been going on with Serah after I just heard Steve narrate Sidekicks in Stockholm.)

The thing is, I'm a big fan of Union Dues, and I tried to look up the 1800gounion website. The website is down, and it looks like episode 304 is the last Union Dues story on Escape pod. Also, I don't have access to Google, Facebook, or many other social media sites here in China, so I can't seem to find any updated info on Jeffrey R. Derego. Does anyone know what happened with him and the series? Is this it?


Hi, I'm Jeff DeRego Smiley

Things are good. I am working on some new stuff (as Talia posted as a response), with this most recent story coming to a close before the end of the month and going to first readers. This will be a story that is probably print only as it's considerably longer than the stories that were published at Escape Pod and Clonepod. There may be a redo of the Team stories that clonepod once did too, but so far I have no other news to report. I've secured the rights to the art I need to release a volume of Union Dues stories themed around the Team Shikaragaki stores and tying in some other stuff I've written.

I've been selling stories individually through the Amazon kindle store, most are science fiction, one is fantasy, and I have released a book of short stories, interlinked like the Union Dues stories, called Fleas. It's about a weekend in a flea market.

Glad you enjoyed the Union Dues stories!

PM me if you like.

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