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Author Topic: EP321: Honor Killing  (Read 3705 times)
eytanz
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« on: December 03, 2011, 05:18:35 AM »

EP321: Honor Killing

By Ray Tabler

Read by Mur Lafferty

An Escape Pod original!

---

You would think that after all the years I’ve spent schlepping cargoes around the galaxy I’d have learned not to get involved with the locals, especially when they’re not humans. You would think.

A Yanuleen sat down across the table from me in a bar at the edge of the landing field outside of Yanult’s largest city. Yanuleen are furry little
folk, bipedal and about a meter tall with six multi-jointed arms poking out at odd intervals around their middles. This one blinked beady, black eyes at me, “Greetings Sentient Being.”

“Uh, greetings.”

“Isn’t it a glorious piece?” My new buddy pointed an arm at the artwork on display in the middle of the bar.

Yanuleen are a bit nuts for that type of thing. They have artwork, mainly sculpture, everywhere, even in a bar. To me it just looked like a three-meter tall bundle of twigs with pieces of broken pottery tossed in at random.

“Very nice.” Being in a foul mood, I took a drink and stared at the Yanuleen.

“Here is being Klonoon.” He pointed all six arms at himself, in the manner of his kind. “Might here also being Captain Anne Katya Shim, who is having a cargo of entertainment modules impounded by the Port Authority?”


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2011, 11:10:19 AM »

I am King Under the Mountain... and this is the first post on this thread.

I liked this story. It was a clever little yarn in the tradition of classic SF: focused on taking some cultural (or scientific, but in this case cultural) idea to its utmost extremity and seeing what comes of it. The fact that the story was unceasingly absurd to human eyes but deadly serious to the aliens gave it a somewhat blackly humorous absurdist bent, but that didn't change the fact that the story really was extremely well thought out. Great narration also, Mur. This story definitely suited her whole-hearted but slightly sardonic narrative style.
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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2011, 09:47:08 AM »

Cute, this was being. Beings being different beings from human beings and being as culturally naive as human beings are often being, showed that racial stereotyping is being universal.
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Talia
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2011, 08:17:26 PM »

Loved it! Such a fun little tale! Anyone else envision the aliens as multi-armed Ewoks? Smiley
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raetsel
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2011, 08:56:53 AM »

Loved it! Such a fun little tale! Anyone else envision the aliens as multi-armed Ewoks? Smiley

Yeah that's pretty much how I imagined them. The fact they were furry rather than insectile added to the whole fluffy fun of the story.
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2011, 11:23:52 AM »

Super cute story, and I have a huge crush on Mur's voice, so her reading it was a nice added bonus.  I was expecting a slightly more downer ending with the "You would think" opening.  Well done Mr. Tabler (and Mrs. Lafferty)!
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2011, 09:47:20 AM »

A fun little story, I have no real complaints.  It reminded me a lot of Dunesteef's Anakoinosis, with a culture clash with fuzzy little aliens demanding we dominate them for their own happiness (in that case slavery, in this case murder).

I couldn't help thinking about the repercussions of the social system that these little alien buddies have worked up for themselves.  It would make dishonor very hard to expunge since suicide is forbidden and murder only transfers it.  One would have to die of natural causes to properly expunge it, so it would be very easy for the whole society to build up a poisonous dishonor that it has a great difficulty purging. 

And I got to thinking about how one could purge the evil.  The idea in the story was a good one for getting rid of this, getting an outside race.  For me, this kind of reminded me of a national policy to get rid of toxic waste.  Country A is rich and has an environmental agency which forbids the dumping of toxic waste within its borders.  Country B is poor and has no such regulations.  So Country A pays Country B for the right to dump the waste in Country B.  Country A meets its self-imposed regulations by not dumping in its own borders, Country B makes money that it didn't have before to feed people.  The same came to mind here, but with countries being species, and toxic waste being dishonor.

Another way that I thought of is to use terminal members of the species as a dump.  You find someone who is dishonored and likely to die soon (through old age or terminal illness), and you have them maim as many dishonored members as you can, lining them up one after the other.  Then when they die they expunge all the dishonor with them.  I guess whether this would work depends on whether that individual would agree--is a lot of dishonor very different from a little dishonor, especially if you know you're going to die?  I guess I'm not really sure.   So maybe this isn't a great plan because you wouldn't get a willing participant...

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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2011, 09:58:28 AM »

A fun little story, I have no real complaints.  It reminded me a lot of Dunesteef's Anakoinosis, with a culture clash with fuzzy little aliens demanding we dominate them for their own happiness (in that case slavery, in this case murder).

I couldn't help thinking about the repercussions of the social system that these little alien buddies have worked up for themselves.  It would make dishonor very hard to expunge since suicide is forbidden and murder only transfers it.  One would have to die of natural causes to properly expunge it, so it would be very easy for the whole society to build up a poisonous dishonor that it has a great difficulty purging. 

And I got to thinking about how one could purge the evil.  The idea in the story was a good one for getting rid of this, getting an outside race.  For me, this kind of reminded me of a national policy to get rid of toxic waste.  Country A is rich and has an environmental agency which forbids the dumping of toxic waste within its borders.  Country B is poor and has no such regulations.  So Country A pays Country B for the right to dump the waste in Country B.  Country A meets its self-imposed regulations by not dumping in its own borders, Country B makes money that it didn't have before to feed people.  The same came to mind here, but with countries being species, and toxic waste being dishonor.

Another way that I thought of is to use terminal members of the species as a dump.  You find someone who is dishonored and likely to die soon (through old age or terminal illness), and you have them maim as many dishonored members as you can, lining them up one after the other.  Then when they die they expunge all the dishonor with them.  I guess whether this would work depends on whether that individual would agree--is a lot of dishonor very different from a little dishonor, especially if you know you're going to die?  I guess I'm not really sure.   So maybe this isn't a great plan because you wouldn't get a willing participant...

Don't forget - dying with the most honor is like dying with the most toys. It means you win. A lot of aliens wouldn't like this because the idea of dying without their honor intact is probably about as bad as just not having any honor to begin with.

Anakoinosis was a good story, wasn't it? I hadn't seen the parallels until you pointed them out - good job, sir.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2011, 09:07:14 PM »

Honor-bound multi-armed Ewoks (or teddy bears. Honestly, I was gonna say teddy bears when I first thought up this post, but then thought Ewoks would be more sci-fi hip, and really, what's the difference, but I seen I was beaten to the punchline) need a "murderous" human! The cultural miscommunication was great in this story. Reminded me of Keith Laumer or early "juvenile" Heinlein (his best stuff, IMHO).

Some might object to the way the story ended on too light a note, but I thought it was just right for the tone of the story. And I'd love to hear the tale behind the last line.


I couldn't help thinking about the repercussions of the social system that these little alien buddies have worked up for themselves.  It would make dishonor very hard to expunge since suicide is forbidden and murder only transfers it.  One would have to die of natural causes to properly expunge it, so it would be very easy for the whole society to build up a poisonous dishonor that it has a great difficulty purging. 


Actually, I suspect a more likely development would be a shadowy society - Ninja Ewoks, if you will - who, rather than eliminating the other party, would, for a hefty fee, eliminate you, the dishonored, but "make it look like an accident". Discrete. Quiet-like.

PS - oh, and Muir? Skyrim belongs to the Nords!!!
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Devoted135
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2011, 02:47:25 PM »

Cute and cuddly aliens with a worldview that (to our eyes) makes them seem entirely deranged. What's not to love? Cheesy

Actually, I spent quite a bit of the story wondering what these guys believed about the afterlife that could allow him to be so unconcerned about what would happen after "his dishonor was removed." I also wondered what aspects of Yanuleen culture the MC was overlooking and how that might alter her understanding of the whole situation. I mean, if simple observation led to such a lopsided view of human nature, then logically this incident might not provide a balanced view of Yaluleen nature.


Cute, this was being. Beings being different beings from human beings and being as culturally naive as human beings are often being, showed that racial stereotyping is being universal.
Love it! Smiley


ETA: the word "aliens" in the first sentence
« Last Edit: December 09, 2011, 11:11:35 AM by Devoted135 » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2011, 11:05:12 AM »

Cute. Funny. Nothing really new, but sometimes a short, funny SF story is all you need.
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« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2011, 12:22:48 PM »

Cute and cuddly aliens with a worldview that (to our eyes) makes them seem entirely deranged. What's not to love? Cheesy

Actually, I spent quite a bit of the story wondering what these guys believed about the afterlife that could allow him to be so unconcerned about what would happen after "his dishonor was removed." I also wondered what aspects of Yanuleen culture the MC was overlooking and how that might alter her understanding of the whole situation. I mean, if simple observation led to such a lopsided view of human nature, then logically this incident might not provide a balanced view of Yaluleen nature.


Cute, this was being. Beings being different beings from human beings and being as culturally naive as human beings are often being, showed that racial stereotyping is being universal.
Love it! Smiley


Aw shucks!  Roll Eyes

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« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2011, 06:03:56 PM »

I enjoyed this a lot.  It's not deep at all, but completely rooted in sci fi with the human narrator learning about the alien culture while trying to solve her dilemma.  And while we may have been left curious with the teaser of a last line, but the tale itself was completely wrapped up and didn't leave the readers hanging.   The length was just right because to absurdity may have worn if the story went on longer.  This was just right for a fun slightly silly story.
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Balu
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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2011, 05:38:41 PM »

"I enjoyed this a lot.  It's not deep at all, but completely rooted in sci fi with the human narrator learning about the alien culture while trying to solve her dilemma"

My thoughts exactly.

It reminded me a lot of Simak. Not just the form of it, but the way in which the wierder things got the more human the character became.
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« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2011, 12:28:53 AM »

This story had me grinning all the way through, and reminded me that the #1 requirement of Escape Pod stories are that they be fun.
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chelsilber
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« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2011, 05:34:50 AM »

Very cute.  Loved it
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Megaflow
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« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2011, 07:41:30 PM »

Definitely fun!  A nifty little story with some way better-than-average world-building. It really made me want to read more about the main character too. Oh, and it was quite well-narrated, as well! Top scores all around.
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2012, 01:09:31 PM »

As everyone else has said, this was fun and I liked it.

I particularly liked the fact that the human wasn't the one who "fixed" the problem. That it was the nemesis ewok who expunged the dis-honour from our protagonist ewok. This was a twist I wasn't expecting and it made the story much more interesting (and less formulaic).
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hardware
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2012, 06:35:39 PM »

This wasn't very original, but nevertheless a solid piece of space trucker entertainment. Could easily see this as an episode in a web TV series. If anybody has read Will Selfs 'The Butt', this one vaguely reminded me of that book with it's stranded protagonist getting implicated into the local surrealistic justice system, and it's invocations of colonial guilt.
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jwbjerk
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« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2012, 09:29:47 PM »

Light, but well crafted, and thoroughly enjoyable.
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