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Author Topic: EP316: Site Fourteen  (Read 3640 times)
eytanz
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« on: October 27, 2011, 05:39:17 PM »

EP316: Site Fourteen

By Laura Anne Gilman

Read by Mat Weller

First appeared in ReVISIONS from Daw Boooks

This one isn’t for the kids, because of language and heavy content.
---

“Nereus Shuttle Four to Gateway Station, you have control.”

Robinachec nodded confirmation as though the pilot could see him.  ”Roger that.  Bringing you in.” Palming the flat-topped lever, I watched as he moved it gently back towards him, pulling the bullet-shaped transport into the shed, an external framework of metal beams just large enough to hold two minisubs, or one shuttle.

Robinechec has nightmares sometimes about something going wrong here.  Forget the fact that it’s the safest maneuver in the entire procedure; he still talks about waking up in a cold sweat because he screwed up.

You’d never know it to watch him.

When you’re six hundred feet down – well below the twilight zone, in the bathypelagic or ‘deep water’ zone– your perception shifts.  Nothing as arcane as the chemical balance in your brain changing, although there’s some of that, too.  No, it’s more the realization, slow sinking into your brain, that there’s not damn-all between you and dying but a duraplas shield and some canned oxy-blend.

You realize that, really process the concept, and you’re okay.  If you can’t, you get the screamin’ meemies and they cart you Topside where you spend the rest of your life on solid dirt, carefully looking anywhere but ocean-ward.

Not everyone’s cut out to be an aquanaut. No shame to it.  Even now, only about a third of the applicants make it into training, and more than half of them dry out before graduation.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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raetsel
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2011, 12:00:18 PM »

I'll start with the positive:

I loved the narration on this, Matt did a great job on the hard bitten commander and I liked the extra audio production for the pings and the klaxons. (Though in a real situation wouldn't they switch the alarms off after a few mins? Once they were in the control room and knew the problem, it wouldn't distract their attention then )

However saying all that is a bit like going to see a film and coming out and saying it was beautifully shot.

Where was the story? I listened on my drive to work. It was 20 minutes of set up: info dumps about the history of sea exploration and the current political situation or the detailed layout of the gate station. Way too long. I arrived at work just as the alarms went off.

I hadnt looked at the length of the episode so when I listened to the rest of the story on my drive home I was expecting much more than just "oh it blew up, we have to leave & the government won't be interested in doing anything for a while"

At the very least I thought we'd find out what caused the explosion and hopefully some actual scenes from down there.

Very disappointing.

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eytanz
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2011, 12:43:14 PM »

I see at least one person has managed to download this episode - itunes refuses to grab it for me. Am I the only one?
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raetsel
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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2011, 01:26:31 PM »

I see at least one person has managed to download this episode - itunes refuses to grab it for me. Am I the only one?

It was just there in my iTunes feed when I synced this morning. I'm in the UK if that makes any difference to which iTunes store servers I might hit.
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eytanz
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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2011, 01:53:59 PM »

I see at least one person has managed to download this episode - itunes refuses to grab it for me. Am I the only one?

It was just there in my iTunes feed when I synced this morning. I'm in the UK if that makes any difference to which iTunes store servers I might hit.

I'm also in the UK, so I don't think that's it.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2011, 01:58:35 PM »

I'll start with the positive:

I loved the narration on this, Matt did a great job on the hard bitten commander and I liked the extra audio production for the pings and the klaxons. (Though in a real situation wouldn't they switch the alarms off after a few mins? Once they were in the control room and knew the problem, it wouldn't distract their attention then )

However saying all that is a bit like going to see a film and coming out and saying it was beautifully shot.

Where was the story? I listened on my drive to work. It was 20 minutes of set up: info dumps about the history of sea exploration and the current political situation or the detailed layout of the gate station. Way too long. I arrived at work just as the alarms went off.

I hadnt looked at the length of the episode so when I listened to the rest of the story on my drive home I was expecting much more than just "oh it blew up, we have to leave & the government won't be interested in doing anything for a while"

At the very least I thought we'd find out what caused the explosion and hopefully some actual scenes from down there.

Very disappointing.

I basically agree with everything you said. Great set-up, fascinating alternate history, interesting and atmospheric scenes... and then nothing. I have narrative blue balls now.
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Scatcatpdx
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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2011, 02:48:18 PM »

Like others the story is incomplete. I am wondering leaving the story hanging has become an over used clichéd plot device.  The writer may think he or she is being artistic and hip  I see as cliché and down right annoying.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2011, 06:13:07 PM by Scatcatpdx » Logged
matweller
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2011, 03:30:13 PM »

I'll start with the positive:

I loved the narration on this, Matt did a great job on the hard bitten commander and I liked the extra audio production for the pings and the klaxons. (Though in a real situation wouldn't they switch the alarms off after a few mins? Once they were in the control room and knew the problem, it wouldn't distract their attention then )
Thanks! I thought about turning off the alarms shortly in, but after listening a couple times, I found that I liked the way it kept the feeling urgent and then when it wasn't there for the conclusion, the starkness seeped in. I was going to offer an alternate with the alarms faded down after like 20 seconds, but I wanted to see how it played out first. As long as it didn't make it impossible to listen to the story, I stand by it.

I had some of the same feeling about the story. I would have like to see it play out more. I would really like to see it drawn into a full novel, I think there's a huge amount of potential here for that. I agree that it had a lot of development for an unresolved ending, but I think too that the point was to make the day seem so completely normal until everything went to hell that it would be front heavy no matter how you played it. I think something probably should have been done to identify the source of the cataclysm. Read the text, maybe the author hinted more strongly at that and I failed to emphasize it properly in the reading.

Regardless, overall I liked it. I just want more. Wink
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slag
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2011, 03:41:57 PM »

Friggin land lubber haters. What I liked about the story is that while there wasn't very much story to it, it had
a nice grizzled mariner in it that reminded me of all the other grizzled mariner types that swore by the sea.
Who needs a spouse? I have the sea!  Who needs kids? I have ther sea! Who needs a hand? A leg? Or an eye?
Give me a hook, peg leg, or eye patch. Then give me the sea!   
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SwingsetPark
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2011, 06:00:06 PM »

I liked all the "What if the space race was an ocean race?" stuff, what with the aquanauts, Kennedy, cold war, etc.

Then I blinked.  The next thing I knew, our hero was ruminating about how he'll be the last to leave Site Fourteen, and maybe there will be a sequel.  We went straight from setup to climactic action to falling action.

Here's the issue:  20 minute opening stasis, 5 minutes of mystery, 1 minute of realization, and 5 minutes of closing stasis.  The question the readers (listeners) are presented is, "Just what the hell is going on?".  When we get an answer a few minutes later, there's no more struggle.  I like to see opening stasis, a catalyst, a fateful decision, some struggle, the darkest night, and conclusion.  We went from stasis to catalyst to conclusion.  In other words, we skipped the story.

Who needs building action?  I have the sea!   Wink
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Rain
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« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2011, 03:22:25 AM »

Like most others i liked the narration, liked the build up, but then we got "The station blew up. The end"
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raetsel
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« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2011, 04:34:01 AM »


....................I have narrative blue balls now.

 Grin Love the concept!
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raetsel
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« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2011, 04:36:03 AM »


Thanks! I thought about turning off the alarms shortly in, but after listening a couple times, I found that I liked the way it kept the feeling urgent and then when it wasn't there for the conclusion, the starkness seeped in.

Don't get me wrong, from a dramatic, story telling point of view I thought it worked great, really added to the tension without obscuring the narration. I was just putting my real world head on and wondering if they would leave the alarm going in the real world that long.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2011, 11:30:57 AM »


....................I have narrative blue balls now.

 Grin Love the concept!

I'm pretty sure I stole it from Scattercat at some point.
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Kaa
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« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2011, 08:45:36 PM »

I have narrative blue balls now.

I wish forums had a "like" button. Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2011, 11:49:10 PM »

I demand attribution!

Nah, not really.

This story... well, I agree with the same criticism everyone else had.  I was really enjoying the setup, but then it just kind of ended while my back was turned.

(So was I imagining it or was this a deadly-serious rendition of Sealab 2021's standard joke plot of "And then the whole station exploded for no apparent reason"?)

(I miss Captain Murphy...)
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« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2011, 09:54:44 AM »

I'll start with the positive:

I loved the narration on this, Matt did a great job on the hard bitten commander and I liked the extra audio production for the pings and the klaxons. (Though in a real situation wouldn't they switch the alarms off after a few mins? Once they were in the control room and knew the problem, it wouldn't distract their attention then )
I think something probably should have been done to identify the source of the cataclysm. Read the text, maybe the author hinted more strongly at that and I failed to emphasize it properly in the reading.


Usually I do read the text, but this time there was none beyond the opening para or two Sad I actually thought I'd nodded off and missed the best bit, but it turns out there wasn't one! Mat, no reflection on your narration (and I liked the sound effects too); this seemed to go nowhere, leaving a whole wall of potential falling in on itself.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2011, 09:59:52 AM »

I can see two ways of looking at this story. Either it's a "day in the life of" an aquanaut (awesome concept, by the way) who happens to be stationed on site fourteen. In which case, that was a ridiculously strange way to end the narrative. Or, it's the story of the mysterious destruction of site fourteen. In which case, where's the rest of the story???

So, either the story takes an indulgent and unnecessary sharp left or the reader is gypped out of the promised climax and resolution, being left with only the first third of a very good story. Not a good dichotomy, and (in my opinion) bad form in both cases.


On the positive side, I thought the reading was quite well done and I really liked the inclusion of the sirens and alarms. Smiley
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Bill
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« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2011, 01:09:04 PM »

I wish I could download it. "Playing Doctor" didn't download in Itunes and this one either. I've tried a number of times and it keeps hanging up.
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kubagami
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« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2011, 01:31:15 PM »

It didn't go anywhere. disappointing for a Halloween story.
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