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Author Topic: EP310: Flash Extravaganza  (Read 1856 times)
eytanz
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« on: September 16, 2011, 11:02:09 AM »

EP310: Flash Extravaganza

Another helping of flash!

Jenna’s Clocks by T. F. Davenport (narrator Jean Hilde-Fulghum)
Wetware Woes by J. J. DeBenedictis (narrator Mur Lafferty)
End of the World or Not, I Still Have Feelings by Daniel Morris (narrator- Barry Haworth)
The Best Cover Band in the Universe by Andrew Fazzari (narrator- John Anealio) – Honorable Mention for the Escape Pod 2010 Flash Contest!


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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eytanz
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2011, 11:23:44 AM »

So, here is my opinion of the stories, in ascending order of how much I liked them which happens to correspond to the order they were played in:

  • Jenna's Clocks: - Hated this one. There are many reasons for that, but the main one is - it's based on a serious misconception of how a brain works. I mean, yes, brain activity is a series of neurons firing in different synchronised patterns. But what makes it a brain is the fact that these patterns are meaningful. They're not random, and their organisation is not independent of their function. The server ping pattern that Jenna created may superficially resemble a brain, but no more. Add to this the fact that the entire plot requires that her rather mundane app not only becomes a viral success (which I can believe) but that it remains that for over twenty years - and the fact that, to work, it must a major data hog, so that once the novelty wears off people will almost certainly turn it off to avoid exceeding data caps - and that an app that pings the server every few seconds would be far more likely to slow down the phones running it to a crawl than create a DOS attack - well, this just felt like a poorly constructed story.
  • Wetware woes: So, it's a story based on the premise that in the future/alternate present technology will use interfaces that seem rather unpalatable to our sensibilities. That can work in longer stories, but here it just made me go "huh?". The story's saving grace was that unlike Jenna's Clocks, it didn't take itself particularly seriously.
  • End of the world...: It's a comedy skit, and while neither particularly original or funny, it was amusing.
  • Best cover band...: Really liked this one in the contest, really liked it again now. I was so glad this episode ended on it, that offset the Jenna's Clocks induced grumpiness I was feeling.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2011, 11:31:35 AM »

This episode has the same name as EP 302?  Could it be named Flash Extravaganza II, to avoid confusion?

(will comment later after I've listened.  I just had to double take when I saw the new thread because I was certain I'd listened to the Flash Extravaganza episode already and wondered why there was a new thread for it)
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eytanz
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« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2011, 01:03:38 PM »

That was the name that the episode was given in the feed; I briefly considered changing it for the thread but decided I should try to always use the official title.
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NomadicScribe
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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2011, 05:45:50 PM »

Jenna’s Clocks and Wetware Woes didn't really do much for me. They were these sort of "perils of technology" stories which seemed to waste their entire spans talking about a potential-but-preposterous future technology instead of actually delivering a story.

End of the World was a hilarious bitch session. I enjoyed this one a lot. I started paying attention with this one. I love how he marginalizes his situation because, goddammit, he has a right to complain. I also love the reversal, how the grumpy waiter ends up being the bloodthirsty warlord when the world goes medieval.

The Best Cover Band was clearly the strongest piece. Entertaining and witty, it contains a set of possibilities which while ludicrous are also tantalizing. In fact I consider it model flash fiction, because no greater or shorter length would have served it any better. We don't want to go too far in depth. The story says everything it needs to say, in the words given.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2011, 12:36:08 AM »

Oh, and while the king was looking down,
The jester stole his thorny crown.
The courtroom was adjourned;
No verdict was returned.
And while lennon read a book of marx,
The quartet practiced in the park,
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died.

So would the cover of Exile on Abbey Road Revisited look like a collection of vintage photos of circus freaks crossing the road?
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2011, 01:42:25 PM »

  • Jenna's Clocks surprised me, and not in a good way. I was mildly amused that she was developing a free app for the uniphone application store. "Oh look!"I thought to myself, "We're poking fun at the ubiquitous company we all love to hate!" (Or hate to love, depending on whether you buy their products or not). And then she almost got caught for DDoSing the air force, that was cool. But what's this business about making an "artificial human brain"? That's not how it works, and we all know that Skynet is a chess computer, not a silly phone app. This is a good example of a neat idea that started out good and went totally kaput because of some strange agenda that the author decided was necessary (but which, IMO, wasn't).
  • Wetware Woes was cute. It was a sweet little piece, probably from the universe of Rudy Rucker's Ware Tetralogy. It was short, I immediately followed what was going on and it ended with an amusing mental image, getting a sloppy kiss from your cellphone. I figured that the devices they were using were "moldies" or something similar from the above-mentioned tetralogy (third book). It made me smile.
  • End of the World or Not, I Still Have Feelings was nice. A little passive-aggressive email full of tangential anecdotes to your local demon. By itself, mildly amusing. But with that wonderful narration from Barry it was excellent. Nobody does passive-aggressive like the British. (Please, nobody take that the wrong way, it was meant as a compliment).
  • The Best Cover Band in the Universe just made me do this: Huh
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Yargling
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« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2011, 07:43:30 AM »

Re, the stories:

Jenna's Clocks: implausible setup, but fun; liked the idea of the pendulum clocks and the 'brain' in the network.
Wetware Woes: Amusing but not very engaging.
End of the world...: Made me smile as its from one of the branches of humour I love - especially loved that the slave-prisoner used to know the warlord before the apocalypse.
The Best Cover Band in the Universe: Didn't really get it - partly zoned out, I'm afraid - might give it another go in abit.

Overall, good light entertainment.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2011, 08:51:31 AM »

That was the name that the episode was given in the feed; I briefly considered changing it for the thread but decided I should try to always use the official title.

Fair enough.  Both show up as another title (but the same title as each other) on my actual iPod.  It's kind of nice having unique names for the episodes.  Word of mouth advertising is your friend, and not having unique names is an obstacle to word of mouth.  So, just a friendly suggestion for future eps, maybe putting a number or naming it Flash Hullaballoo or something.


Jenna's Clocks--my reaction is similar to Max's on this one.  There were several stages of coolness as it went on, but the least cool was the note it ended on with the supposed brain.  I mean, there will probably be some pattern to this, but I expect it would be more like a tide than a brain, certainly not capable of conscious thought.

Wetware Woes was okay, had some fun silly ideas, but I didn't really get into it.

End of the World or Not, I Still Have Feelings was over the top, but in a funny way.  Had a bit of a Douglas Adams vibe to it, in that I can't imagine this conversation actually happening, but that's okay because it's just funny and I don't care if its plausible.

The Best Cover Band in the Universe, good to see this one hit the feed. I had been a little jealous of this one, because the idea for it had crossed my mind but I'd never written the story!  But the story was a good one, a good example of the power of flash, you can get a weird idea in, explore it to the extent that it stays interesting and then get out.

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Devoted135
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« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2011, 11:09:07 AM »

Yay for more flash! Smiley

Jenna's Clocks: I loved this one, except for the bit at the end about the brains....I think I'm just going to pretend I didn't hear that part and her nefarious plot was never explained.

Wetware Woes: This one was really cute, I'd love to get little kisses from my cell phone! As long as it didn't also kiss all the kids I lend it to so they can call their parents... Hm, on second thought maybe not. :-P

End of the world or Not, I Still Have Feelings: This was a hilarious rant, and I loved the reading. I think my favorite part was the murderer complaining about how he'd rather be maiming or beating rather than decapitating.

The Best Cover Band in the Universe: I loved this one, how all the little details start to pile up on each other until you realize just how different their world really is. Great stuff!
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2011, 11:42:06 AM »

Any story that ends with "... and the phone smooched her" I'm gonna love the hell out of, and have to listen to twice.

Though a mid-level exec's memo at the end of the world is very nearly as good.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2011, 03:41:40 PM »

That was the name that the episode was given in the feed; I briefly considered changing it for the thread but decided I should try to always use the official title.

Fair enough.  Both show up as another title (but the same title as each other) on my actual iPod.  It's kind of nice having unique names for the episodes.  Word of mouth advertising is your friend, and not having unique names is an obstacle to word of mouth.  So, just a friendly suggestion for future eps, maybe putting a number or naming it Flash Hullaballoo or something.

I'm a big fan of hootenannies.
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Gamercow
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« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2011, 07:29:41 PM »

Jenny's Clocks: I really liked the beginning of this, but disliked the end.  Even up to the map part, I liked it, but the whole brain thing was no good.  First, this type of synch happens already, sort of, with NTP time synching.  Most computers synch up with the atomic clocks run by the Naval Observatory, but there is a growing number of computers who synch their time up with more local servers to ease the stress on the USNO clock.  Additionally, there are many distributed computing systems that have more than 2 million users, and use more computing power than phones.  Finally, a simple game of WoW needs such precise communications between computers, it is staggering when you think about it.  [/nerd]

Anyway, on with the show:
Wetware:  Decent, but failed to pull me into the world.  May have worked better on a larger scale.

End of the World:  My favorite of the bunch, because it is simple, straight forward, and amusing. 

Cover Band:  Okay, but didn't really pull me in, much like when I read it the first time. 
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jayazman
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« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2011, 11:08:56 AM »

I liked all of them.

 Jenna clock was fun.  I didn’t have a problem with the bandwidth issue, as I envisioned this as a near future story, so they would be in 6G or 7G or whatever several improvements of data speed will be.  Even the idea of creating self awareness from a network that has enough connections isn’t new.   RAH did it, so while it might not be accurate, it at least has precedence.  My main problem was with the app lasting for 100 years.  At the rate technology increases and hardware and software changes, I can’t believe that she wouldn’t have to completely rewrite the software many times, just in a 10 year span, let alone 100 years.   Which would also require her network to completely start from scratch each time, but also require that the app would maintain its popularity.

Wetware Woes was great.  While the technology was completely improbable, it was an interesting idea.  And the phone giving her a smooch, that was awesome.

End of the World or Not, I Still Have Feelings was ok.  The irony of the narrator wanting the Pit Master to take his feelings into account when the narrator wouldn’t do it when he was king was not lost on me.  The ranting tangents were amusing.  “I’d rain fire on you in the form of furious all caps emails” is a great line, but my favorite line is “If you won’t give me your respect, you’ll at least allow me to purchase it.”  To me, this story said, be careful who you piss off today, they could be your pit master tomorrow.

The Best Cover Band in the Universe was the explanation of how the Muppets came to be.  He even brought in Kermits changing vocal style as the different puppeteers came and went.  Awesome.
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brlteach
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« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2011, 03:22:34 PM »

End of the World or Not, I Still Have Feelings:  Loved it!  I love the humor, I love the reading, I love the world-building.  I have one tremendous problem with it, though:  I was left wanting more.  Please, may I have a second helping of that humorous alternate reality?
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SF.Fangirl
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« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2011, 11:43:21 PM »

"How disappointing another flash episode."  I am not a fan of the flash length.  They're often cute or amusing but generally have little impact because they're too short to develop character, plot, or world and I would have preferred spending the time listening to a single longer story.  Jenna's Clock was an exception for me.  I like it a lot even with the "twist at the end" ending which a lot of flash pieces have.  Possibly because the author did manage to develop Jenna's character and generate my sympathy for her very quickly.  The other works were better than average but still forgettable flash stories.  Mildly entertaining.  Jenna's Clock made this episode worthwhile for me. 
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2011, 12:32:25 AM »

The End of the World or Not... was my favourite of these.  Definitely silly fun.
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DrStitch
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« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2011, 04:01:44 PM »

This is my first time posting to the forums, but I've been listening to Escape Pod (and Pod Castle, and PseudoPod for a couple years now), and I'm a big fan.

Normally I love these stories, however the Flash Extravaganza was so bad it prompted me to starting posting. (good or bad, I'll let you decide).

The first story was the absolute worst.  The concept that a very simple program that is meant to make pretty pictures that resemble a human brain can develop into an AI working on its own made me go back and listen three times to make sure I hadn't missed something else in the story.  That's a plot hole big enough to orbit a death star through.  I mean, Superman couldn't even have made that leap.

And although the second story was pretty funny, the fact that I was falling down the plot hole of the first story (wondering how deep it would go) I couldn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked. 
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2011, 08:32:45 AM »

Normally I love these stories, however the Flash Extravaganza was so bad it prompted me to starting posting. (good or bad, I'll let you decide).

What episodes did you like?
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LaShawn
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« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2012, 10:57:04 AM »

I thought Jenna's clocks was the best of them. I loved the thought of a being emerging from synchronicity. But then again, I don't consider myself logical to begin with, so of course the story made absolute sense. ^_^.

I didn't get Wetware woes. End of the World was amusing, and I didn't Cover Band when it appeared in the contest, but listening to it made me understand more, and like it more.
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