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Author Topic: EP324: Long Winter’s Nap  (Read 10464 times)

eytanz

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on: December 23, 2011, 04:55:52 PM
EP324: Long Winter’s Nap

By Catherine H. Shaffer

Read by Mur Lafferty

First published in Analog, 2006

---

“Eat,” said MooninMama, “You have a long winter ahead.” LittlestOne turned her head away as MooninMama lifted the spoon of raspberry pie dripping with honey and caribou fat. LittlestOne was sleepy, too sleepy, for what she planned.

“I am already full,” said LittlestOne. Her stomach rumbled, giving away her lie.

MooninMama shrugged and set the plate away. It was beginning to get cold in the cave as the crackling fire burned down to embers. Soon it would be time to sleep, time to dream of spring, when they would awaken, shivering, and find that Santy Clawr had visited them.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!



Thunderscreech

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Reply #1 on: December 23, 2011, 07:34:36 PM
I wonder how many unplanned Santa conversations will be prompted by the, ah, warning at the beginning of this podcast….  ;)

Hope they weren't listening with the kids right there! "What did he mean, daddy?"



Leevi

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Reply #2 on: December 23, 2011, 08:48:15 PM
Good story, not much to say about that, but have to say that I loved song in the end :D



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #3 on: December 27, 2011, 10:13:17 AM
Hmm....
I've often wondered what life would be like if we were cold-blooded. I couldn't conceive of any plausible way this would happen, but genetic modifications using indigenous lifeforms seems straightforward enough.
Now, assuming that the people's names are based on the animal whose genetic material they contain, what is a yeti? I'm assuming it's an alpine creature indigenous to that planet. And I'm kind of hoping that it is small and furry with huge, vastly oversize feet. And a herbivore. Because of the amusing irony.

Aside from that, the story was a lot of fun. A cute little romp in the snow with a small child trying to discover the truth about the mysterious winter holidays. I particularly loved how since the entire story was from her point of view, we had no idea what she was looking at, who it was she had encountered. And trying to decipher from her descriptions that these were warm-blooded humans in a wingless aircraft with a domestic humaniform robot was a lot of fun.

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FoggyEthan

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Reply #4 on: December 27, 2011, 09:02:58 PM
My strongest compliments and congratulations to Norm Sherman. "Bang for your buck" is truly the worst pun I've heard in a very long time.

Not that I'm challenging anyone to come up with worse. 8-)
-- Ethan



Kaa

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Reply #5 on: December 27, 2011, 09:39:12 PM
I listened to this one on the way to work this morning and was grinning when I arrived thanks to this fun story. I really liked trying to figure out when and where this was taking place based solely on the little girl's observations.

I also think maybe the Hots were all descendants of Lois Lane.

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InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #6 on: December 27, 2011, 11:16:12 PM
Maybe it's the holiday season, but this was for me one of the saddest stories that didn't involve someone actually dying that I've heard. Oh well, at least Littlest One got to go home (I was expecting to end with "and she died of neglect in a lab").

Though the hilariously bitter little song at the end saved the day!



raetsel

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Reply #7 on: December 28, 2011, 12:00:32 PM
.... Oh well, at least Littlest One got to go home (I was expecting to end with "and she died of neglect in a lab").

Though the hilariously bitter little song at the end saved the day!

Yeah I was a bit worried about how it was going to end up too, glad it just ended up with Little One going back to the tribe and rather than having her illusions shattered she was instead proud of the grown up knowledge she now possessed.

The whole world building behind this is intriguing and perhaps contradictory. Little One's tribe know of the hots and they speak the same language, though apparently she doesn't communicate to the adults that her parents are alive and hibernating.




Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #8 on: December 28, 2011, 01:00:11 PM
.... Oh well, at least Littlest One got to go home (I was expecting to end with "and she died of neglect in a lab").

Though the hilariously bitter little song at the end saved the day!

Yeah I was a bit worried about how it was going to end up too, glad it just ended up with Little One going back to the tribe and rather than having her illusions shattered she was instead proud of the grown up knowledge she now possessed.

The whole world building behind this is intriguing and perhaps contradictory. Little One's tribe know of the hots and they speak the same language, though apparently she doesn't communicate to the adults that her parents are alive and hibernating.
Why should she?
When was the last time you had a conversation with a small child who actually volunteered necessary information?
True if they had asked her point-blank where her parents were she probably would have answered, but nowhere in the story (to the best of my recollection) do they actually ask. They just assume she's a pathetic, lost, parentless child. Which is their fault, not the girl's.

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raetsel

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Reply #9 on: December 28, 2011, 01:46:58 PM
.... Oh well, at least Littlest One got to go home (I was expecting to end with "and she died of neglect in a lab").

Though the hilariously bitter little song at the end saved the day!

Yeah I was a bit worried about how it was going to end up too, glad it just ended up with Little One going back to the tribe and rather than having her illusions shattered she was instead proud of the grown up knowledge she now possessed.

The whole world building behind this is intriguing and perhaps contradictory. Little One's tribe know of the hots and they speak the same language, though apparently she doesn't communicate to the adults that her parents are alive and hibernating.
Why should she?
When was the last time you had a conversation with a small child who actually volunteered necessary information?
True if they had asked her point-blank where her parents were she probably would have answered, but nowhere in the story (to the best of my recollection) do they actually ask. They just assume she's a pathetic, lost, parentless child. Which is their fault, not the girl's.

Actually that's a very good point know you mention it. What is weirder then is that the Hots don't ask. You find an eight year old child in the wild and you don't say "Where are your mummy and daddy?"



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #10 on: December 28, 2011, 03:05:31 PM
.... Oh well, at least Littlest One got to go home (I was expecting to end with "and she died of neglect in a lab").

Though the hilariously bitter little song at the end saved the day!

Yeah I was a bit worried about how it was going to end up too, glad it just ended up with Little One going back to the tribe and rather than having her illusions shattered she was instead proud of the grown up knowledge she now possessed.

The whole world building behind this is intriguing and perhaps contradictory. Little One's tribe know of the hots and they speak the same language, though apparently she doesn't communicate to the adults that her parents are alive and hibernating.
Why should she?
When was the last time you had a conversation with a small child who actually volunteered necessary information?
True if they had asked her point-blank where her parents were she probably would have answered, but nowhere in the story (to the best of my recollection) do they actually ask. They just assume she's a pathetic, lost, parentless child. Which is their fault, not the girl's.

Actually that's a very good point know you mention it. What is weirder then is that the Hots don't ask. You find an eight year old child in the wild and you don't say "Where are your mummy and daddy?"
I am not a psychologist, but it may have something to do with having a humaniform robot servant.
I think that they got so used to being the complete and utter local authority, to their children, their robot, that the idea of another existing somewhere simply did not enter their minds. Sort of like "Oh, here is a lost child, what do we need to do to fix it?" instead of "Here is a lost child, how did this happen?"
Or they could simply be posturing pricks.

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Kaa

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Reply #11 on: December 28, 2011, 03:43:07 PM
True if they had asked her point-blank where her parents were she probably would have answered, but nowhere in the story (to the best of my recollection) do they actually ask. They just assume she's a pathetic, lost, parentless child. Which is their fault, not the girl's.

Actually, they do ask, and she says, "They're sleeping under the ground." (Or words to that effect.) Which, naturally, the Hots take to mean they're dead. She was just being literal.

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Anarquistador

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Reply #12 on: December 28, 2011, 05:15:54 PM
Not that I'm challenging anyone to come up with worse. 8-)
-- Ethan


...Awwww.

::slumps away, dejected.::

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Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #13 on: December 29, 2011, 06:35:40 AM
True if they had asked her point-blank where her parents were she probably would have answered, but nowhere in the story (to the best of my recollection) do they actually ask. They just assume she's a pathetic, lost, parentless child. Which is their fault, not the girl's.

Actually, they do ask, and she says, "They're sleeping under the ground." (Or words to that effect.) Which, naturally, the Hots take to mean they're dead. She was just being literal.
Thanks for the correction ;P
And that is (partially) why small children are so cute. And sometimes infuriating. ;)

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Talia

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Reply #14 on: December 30, 2011, 02:20:42 AM
Charming story! So glad she didn't end up kidnapped by the Hots. I'd personally be interested in reading more set in this world; seems like there's a lot interesting stories to be told.

I also wonder what the robot's reasoning was in the end in letting her go. Maybe he somehow perceived her as a potential threat to the other children and thought it best she go? Well, I guess it was pretty clearly an AI not just a bot. Or maybe it was that the Hots treated it like a bot, but it was really more of a person, and sensed she recognized this and decided to do her a favor in return. Hmm.



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #15 on: December 30, 2011, 02:32:33 AM
I also wonder what the robot's reasoning was in the end in letting her go. Maybe he somehow perceived her as a potential threat to the other children and thought it best she go? Well, I guess it was pretty clearly an AI not just a bot. Or maybe it was that the Hots treated it like a bot, but it was really more of a person, and sensed she recognized this and decided to do her a favor in return. Hmm.

Yeah, Nanny was a great big question mark for me, right down to its gender (Littlest One is NOT the most reliable narrator when describing the Hots). What it a full mechanical, a Borged human slave, something in between? Was it actually feeling pity for Littlest One, or Nanny's behavior simply a programed response to a child in pain?



raetsel

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Reply #16 on: December 30, 2011, 08:51:27 AM

I think that they got so used to being the complete and utter local authority, to their children, their robot, that the idea of another existing somewhere simply did not enter their minds. Sort of like "Oh, here is a lost child, what do we need to do to fix it?" instead of "Here is a lost child, how did this happen?"
Or they could simply be posturing pricks.

A little from column A and a little from column B



raetsel

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Reply #17 on: December 30, 2011, 08:52:18 AM
True if they had asked her point-blank where her parents were she probably would have answered, but nowhere in the story (to the best of my recollection) do they actually ask. They just assume she's a pathetic, lost, parentless child. Which is their fault, not the girl's.

Actually, they do ask, and she says, "They're sleeping under the ground." (Or words to that effect.) Which, naturally, the Hots take to mean they're dead. She was just being literal.

I thought it was the kids that asked this rather than the grown ups but even so the answer would be interpreted as "they are dead" I guess.



SF.Fangirl

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Reply #18 on: January 01, 2012, 05:22:08 AM
I liked this story a bit.  I didn't love it, but I certainly didn't hate it.  I was very, very happy that Littlest One survived and escaped.  I was't looking good for her, and that would have made a very unhappy ending to a charming Christmas story. I can't point to anything wrong with it (thankfully); it just wasn't my cup of tea.  The unrelaible narrator made for an interesting effect, though, and I thought the ending with Littlest One aware of who Santy Claws really was and excited about her secret knowledge was the happiest ending possible.  I was pleased with that because I was rooting for her.



slag

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Reply #19 on: January 03, 2012, 05:54:32 PM
I don't think this story would have been on EscapePod had Little One's dreams simply been shattered, and ended sadly, or what I think a lot of people in here might have taken to be a sad ending.

"Just remember what ol' Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big ol' storm right square in the eye and he says, "Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it."


Kaa

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Reply #20 on: January 03, 2012, 06:22:16 PM
I commented on this a long while back. Often, I forget which podcast I'm listening to because I hear the introduction, am interrupted, and then simply resume. It might be hours later.

This is one of those stories that could have been on any one of the three Escape Artists podcasts, given a different ending.

The ending it has lands it firmly in the Escape Pod category.

If she'd been 'kidnapped' or simply had her dreams shattered, it would be more suitable for Pseudopod.

I'm not sure what ending would have landed it on Podcastle. Maybe if there'd been a final scene of her remembering how, years before, she'd had a delusion about living all alone on an ice planet before being rescued or something.

Sometimes, I find it amusing to muse on how a story could go any of a number of ways, but we can sort of guess depending on which one of the three podcasts it's on. :) "This is Escape Pod and it's not Hugo Month, so this is probably going to have a happy/fun ending."

(For Hugo Month, all bets are most definitely off.)

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Devoted135

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Reply #21 on: January 03, 2012, 09:48:22 PM
Slowly catching up on my podcast queue from the Christmas break. It was a lot of fun to try and figure out what was actually going on through the lens of Littlest One's perspective. I was also relieved that Nanny decided to let her go, because I definitely did NOT want to see her handed over to the authorities! More from this world would be great fun. :D



Gary

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Reply #22 on: January 05, 2012, 08:03:28 PM
Didn't care for this one.
It had a good sci-fi/future idea in it(a new ice age and how some evolved to deal with it) but it didn't bring that in until very near the end and then only just touched on it.
I think I would have very much enjoyed that story. This one just felt to me like another "Christmas, it's all a big lie!" soapbox lecture with unusual characters and setting added to make it seem "new".
Guess I'm the only one who took it that way though so consider me an errant data point.

Not a total loss for me though. That pun - "Bang for the Buck" - made it all worth while.  ;D



Listener

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Reply #23 on: January 05, 2012, 08:38:39 PM
This was an enjoyable enough story. I won't necessarily remember it amid the rest of the Christmas stories presented by every podcast I listen to in the month of December, but I liked it just fine.

It had a good sci-fi/future idea in it(a new ice age and how some evolved to deal with it) but it didn't bring that in until very near the end and then only just touched on it.

I don't know if it was an ice age, per se, or just a really cold part of the US. Early on they said something about Saginaw, which is in Michigan. According to the Weather Channel, it was pretty darn cold there in December: http://www.weather.com/weather/monthly/USMI0739?month=-1 ... and here's historical temps for the past ten years in Saginaw: http://weather-warehouse.com/WeatherHistory/PastWeatherData_Saginaw3_Saginaw_MI_November.html

If animals generally start hibernating in fall, then I don't see why it wouldn't have been cold enough for the tribe to start hibernating the usual time.

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Gary

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Reply #24 on: January 05, 2012, 09:51:51 PM
I don't know if it was an ice age, per se, or just a really cold part of the US.

I can understand how you'd miss it. It was this bit thrown in near the end -
Quote
“Transgenic? Isn’t that illegal?” said the mama.

“It wasn’t always,” said the Daddy.

“There were dozens of isolationist political factions at the time of the diaspora that may have used transgenic technology to survive the Ice Age,” said Nanny.

As I said, THAT is a story line I would like to hear about!