Escape Artists
November 01, 2014, 12:57:04 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2  All
  Print  
Author Topic: EP330: The Ghost of a Girl Who Never Lived  (Read 5740 times)
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4700



« on: February 03, 2012, 04:29:33 PM »

EP330: The Ghost of a Girl Who Never Lived

By Keffy R. M. Kehrli

Read by Mur Lafferty

Originally appeared in InterGalactic Medicine Show.

---

I am Sara’s second body.

My first memory is of Sara’s resurrection in a room that smelled of cotton balls and hydrogen peroxide.

“That’s funny,” a man said.

The world felt raw, sore, and new. Under my back, my butt, my fingertips, I could feel every thread in the sheets beneath me. The blanket over my stomach scratched. Padded straps crossed my arms.

“What’s funny?” This voice was a woman’s.

“Got another error message,” the man answered. “Have you ever seen that one before?”

I felt the sheets with Sara’s fingers, and the texture conjured memories I didn’t have. I should have known where I was and what I was there for, but I couldn’t catch hold of the fleeting thoughts. In the dim light of the room I could only see the ceiling.

“Let me see.” I heard a frenzied clicking. “It failed twice?”


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
Logged
l33tminion
Palmer
**
Posts: 40


« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2012, 07:59:55 PM »

Is that bit at the end a flashback (to original Sara?), a memory, or a skip forward?  Struck me as a really ambiguous.  Reading it again, I'm even more confused what the sequence of events is supposed to be.

Good story.
Logged
Max e^{i pi}
Hipparch
******
Posts: 904


Have towel, will travel.


« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2012, 05:29:44 AM »

Is that bit at the end a flashback (to original Sara?), a memory, or a skip forward?  Struck me as a really ambiguous.  Reading it again, I'm even more confused what the sequence of events is supposed to be.

Good story.
The way I understood it was that the diary sequence at the end is the direct precursor to all of the cabin sequence scenes. On her last day in Sara's room as herself, the morning after she heard Sara's parents fighting, she woke up, wrote that line in the diary, then ran away to the cabin in the woods where Doctor Whatsherface found her.

I definitely agree with Mur about being reminded of the Lintilla clones (and the horrific solution, the Allitnils). But I was much more reminded of a Robin Cook book, Abduction. In that book the people that the researchers encounter live basically immortal lives by designing and growing a new human in a lab, and when that person is 4 years old, the "dead" person's identity is beamed into the brain via the eyes (the dead person "lives" in a computer bank for a few years first). At this point of the explanation one of the team asks "But what happens to the little girl?" (they were watching it live happening to a 4 year old girl). And to that the response was "What do you mean? She is nobody, there is no mind there".
And that little scene horrified me (and one of the researchers). How could these people be so callus as to routinely destroy entire lives of people who had never been just so that they would never have to die?
I think that this story did a much better job of exploring that idea (Robin Cook mostly glazed over that for the rest of the book iirc). I found myself empathizing with NotSara quite a bit. Here she was, trying to figure out who she is, and the world isn't letting her. They are assuming she is somebody she isn't, and are in fact trying to force her to become that person, even if it means killing her in the process.
I don't want to get all heavy-handed and moral on people here, but if you think about it a little bit, I'm sure that you could think of somebody you know (maybe even yourself) who is being force to go through just such an experience.

In a way I'm glad that we didn't get to hear the end of the story, but I am under no delusions as to what happened. I hope that someday soon, when we're passed the singularity and start looking into resurrecting dead people, we'll look back on this story and think twice. Me? I'm going to opt for a robot body when I die.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 05:31:39 AM by Max e^{i pi} » Logged

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!

Kaa
Lochage
*****
Posts: 547


Trusst in me, jusst in me.


WWW
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2012, 11:22:44 PM »

I really liked this one. It raises all kinds of lovely questions. And that last diary entry? Chilling.
Logged

I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

About writing || About Atheism and Skepticism (mostly) || About Everything Else
Swamp
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2224



WWW
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2012, 11:46:45 AM »

I really liked this one. It raises all kinds of lovely questions. And that last diary entry? Chilling.

I completely agree.

I was so drawn in by the personal struggle of "Not Sara" that I didn't even think of this story as a trope.  If somebidy had explained this story to me before I listened to it, I would have thought "OK, so it's another clone story".  I probably still would have liked it, but I would have gone in with a preconceived idea and placed it in a category.  I felt the emotion of all of the characters in this story.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 10:50:36 AM by Swamp » Logged

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast
SF.Fangirl
Peltast
***
Posts: 137


« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2012, 01:33:07 PM »

I liked this story - a good scifi-nal premise and a story that explores the emotional implications of that.  I didn't love it and wasn't blown away by it; it is hard to when all signs point to death of notSara. (I feel like a grump commenting in Escape Pod's forums lately, but I have actually loved a few short stories I've read/listened to within the last month.  They just haven't come from Escape Pod.   Sad)

I did have a bit of trouble knowing when a scene change signified a jump forward or backward in time.  It wasn't terribly important in this very emotionally heavy, lightly-plotted story so I just kept focussing on notSara's emotions.  I'm not sure if there's a audio solution, but with a written story there may be a symbol in the text and I can always pause for a moment and figure it out.  Podcasts do not offer either of those options easily.  I wonder if there's an audio solution?

This reminded me a lot of a short story I read on Tor.com recently which was a teaser for a novel.  It wasn't quite clones, but the teenage female protaganist deals with similar issues after waking up from dying.   “The Rotten Beast,” [http://www.tor.com/stories/2011/11/the-rotten-beast] by author Mary E. Pearson, which takes place in the same near-future world of Pearson's The Jenna Fox Chronicles.
Logged
Gamercow
Hipparch
******
Posts: 649



« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2012, 08:53:26 PM »

Skeptical cow was skeptical at the beginning of the story, but it really grew on me, and I agree with Mur that I didn't need a closed ending on this one, because any number of things could have happened, and each has its merit.  The one I was voting for:  NotSara gets the procedure, stays NotSara, but takes this chance to use what she's learned in the diary to fake it until she makes it.  Any anomalies can be hand waved away with lingering amnesia from the double procedure, etc. 
I think that NotSara could have found some solace relating to amnesia patients. I have heard about people who get amnesia, and start a completely different life afterwards.  They like foods they hated before, have different sexual preferences, can mysteriously speak languages they could not before, and so on. 
The story also brings up the question of "do clones go to heaven?" for religious folks.  I have no idea what the "proper" answer to that would be, I guess it comes down to the soul, and where the church would fall on that kind of thing. 
Logged

The cow says "Mooooooooo"
Kaa
Lochage
*****
Posts: 547


Trusst in me, jusst in me.


WWW
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2012, 10:03:09 PM »

The story also brings up the question of "do clones go to heaven?" for religious folks.  I have no idea what the "proper" answer to that would be, I guess it comes down to the soul, and where the church would fall on that kind of thing. 

More interestingly, it would bring up the question of what happens, in that scenario you describe, to the original Sara's soul. There's a whole depth of implications to plumb for the story to go in that direction.
Logged

I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

About writing || About Atheism and Skepticism (mostly) || About Everything Else
Talia
Moderator
*****
Posts: 2532


I like pie


« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2012, 08:54:07 AM »

Well, that was depressing, though I enjoyed it. I like to think the reporter's expose would lead to a clone's rights movement and spell the beginning  of the end for these cretins, because what they're doing is very clearly murder, at least in Not-Sara's case.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 08:56:53 AM by Talia » Logged
Kaa
Lochage
*****
Posts: 547


Trusst in me, jusst in me.


WWW
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2012, 08:55:59 AM »

Yes, this is one of those stories that, the more I think about it--and I have thought about it--the more disturbing it is, and the more questions it raises. I like that in a story.
Logged

I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

About writing || About Atheism and Skepticism (mostly) || About Everything Else
4WheelDrive
Extern
*
Posts: 13


« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2012, 07:52:20 PM »

Let me state for the record, as I have no off-the-record record, that Mur is one of the greatest narrators I know of.  Her readings are well done, polished and thoughtful; such as the voice changes, usage of dynamics, etc.  Hope to see you in person one of these days.

I give the story a thumbs up for portraying the human race in a semi-positive light.  The gloom and doom stories are starting to get under my skin.

The question of individuality and personality played out well in this story.  It seemed to me there were times the Girl Called Me was torn between wanting to be an individual or belong to a group, i.e. not upsetting the family, etc.

The ethics argument of cloning a body and putting a personality into it struck me like a Mac truck.  Just when is the right time to let go of a loved one?  Is the soul what makes that person a person?  Does that soul survive being transferred from one body to another? Huh   
Logged
Listener
Hipparch
******
Posts: 3177


I place things in locations which later elude me.


WWW
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2012, 08:42:12 AM »

I think this was a good story, although the tense-shifting wasn't set off enough audibly (audially?) to make me always catch when we were shifting around.

There will soon come a time when we're going to have to put provisions in our wills that we aren't brought back as AIs or clones. Although Sara and Not-Sara didn't really have a choice because they were both minors, and unless the minor is emancipated or is being mistreated by its parents, the parents hold all the cards. I didn't see/hear in the story how Sara died, but at least if it was an illness the parents would've had time to say goodbye.

I can't believe I'm going to namecheck Laurell K. Hamilton, but in some of her earlier books she addresses the "getting a chance to say goodbye" and "holding on too long to someone who has died" arguments when Anita is hired to raise a zombie by its family members. As with that, so with this story, where the ethics of cloning someone incompletely and then overwriting him or her somewhat overshadow the fact that the parents (I think in this case it was mostly the mother) can't handle saying goodbye. That, or guilt -- the guilt that, if it was an accident, the last thing you said was something "bad", or that you yelled at the kid, or that you're afraid you didn't tell the kid "I love you" enough. Guilt is a powerful motivator.
Logged

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42
Tengu99
Extern
*
Posts: 1


« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2012, 10:02:32 AM »

I've been a listener of Escape Pod for a few years now and this is the first time I've been moved enough by a story to comment on it. I loved this story. It's a great premise, when the technology fails and a person is the inadvertent result. I just love that it was told from such a vulnerable perspective. It seems like a bit of recovered history, the record of a bump in the otherwise steady progress of this technology's timeline, an awkward week that will be glossed over as soon as notSarah returns from the clinic rebooted as the recovered Sarah. Something no one will talk about and would rather just forget. notSarah is an interstitial, soon to be forgotten. Since after the second procedure she will be effectively gone, the reporter won't have any subject for his story anymore and the controversy will fade away (since apparently this copy failure was the first experienced). From a technological standpoint I'm not sure how feasible the setup is... I suppose it's a bit like the OS and user folder structure is copied over but not the contents of those folders(?). But I'm guessing any future tech that could transfer memories would be a lot more subtle and deeper ingrained that the standard OS directory model. But still, I loved this story. Really got to me.
Logged
RKG
Palmer
**
Posts: 60



« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2012, 05:38:42 PM »

Really enjoyed this one.

Like Max e^{i pi}, I don't think the ending was open.  The title tells us (well, strongly implies anyway) that she came back as Sara, thereby creating the ghost notSara - the girl who never lived.

notSara actually seemed surprisingly docile.  What if someone right now told you that you were a physical clone of a person who died at your exact age, and now that the body was old enough they were going to replace your memories with his/hers?  Wouldn't it be killing you?  notSara was literally being killed in order to restore Sara.  I don't think she would have willingly gone along with it.  I sure wouldn't.  Hey, the original RKG had his shot at this body - sorry it didn't work out pal, but this copy is MINE.

Personally I was hoping would make another clone and only be able to put the other half of Sara into that one. Then they send them back through the transporter together to re-unite them...  ;-)
Logged

Kaa
Lochage
*****
Posts: 547


Trusst in me, jusst in me.


WWW
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2012, 06:22:25 PM »

You know, there's another part of this story that's creepy that people haven't commented on. The story states that the brother and Sara were twins.

When Sara comes back from the dead, how FREAKIN' WEIRD is it going to be for her to have her twin suddenly be two years older? And how weird for him was it to have someone who looked and sounded just like his twin sister around, but to not BE her and to be two years younger?

It's just an all-around creepfest. And the longer you think about the story, the more creepy it gets. I love it. Smiley
Logged

I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

About writing || About Atheism and Skepticism (mostly) || About Everything Else
Gamercow
Hipparch
******
Posts: 649



« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2012, 07:38:16 PM »

When Sara comes back from the dead, how FREAKIN' WEIRD is it going to be for her to have her twin suddenly be two years older? And how weird for him was it to have someone who looked and sounded just like his twin sister around, but to not BE her and to be two years younger?

I definitely love that aspect.  Such a small thing, but puts the idea of how weird the situation is right smack dab in our faces.
Logged

The cow says "Mooooooooo"
InfiniteMonkey
Lochage
*****
Posts: 467


Clearly, I need more typewriters....


« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2012, 09:51:05 PM »

This story hit me on two completely different levels; the science fictional, which I think sadly is plausible for a future, and philosophical. It's a question of identity, identity deeper than gender, race, or national identity, summed up in the question "how do you know who you are?" (think about it - how DO you know you're you? I'm sure someone can offer some fancy epistemological or self-awarness argument, but how, REALLY, on an everyday level, are you sure you're you?) And Sara would of course not have remained "Sara" throughout time. Her identity would no doubt have changed, as it does for all of us.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 11:12:39 PM by InfiniteMonkey » Logged
Max e^{i pi}
Hipparch
******
Posts: 904


Have towel, will travel.


« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2012, 01:57:39 AM »

When Sara comes back from the dead, how FREAKIN' WEIRD is it going to be for her to have her twin suddenly be two years older? And how weird for him was it to have someone who looked and sounded just like his twin sister around, but to not BE her and to be two years younger?
I thought about that briefly, but it got eclipsed by something even creepier.
When Sara comes back she'll have been dead for two years. How FREAKIN' WEIRD is it going to be for her brother to have a sister who has been dead for two years suddenly come back?
Logged

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!

Scattercat
Caution:
Editor
*****
Posts: 4425


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2012, 05:07:20 AM »

notSara actually seemed surprisingly docile.  What if someone right now told you that you were a physical clone of a person who died at your exact age, and now that the body was old enough they were going to replace your memories with his/hers?

I got the distinct impression that not-Sara had not "lived" at all; she was unconscious until they uploaded Sara's memories, and it was only the error in the transcription process that let her 'wake up' at all.  She has no memories of her own; her life started when they brought her awake on the table, with scattered fragments of Sara's memories - incomplete and "unreal" to not-Sara - in her mind.
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
Devoted135
Hipparch
******
Posts: 870



« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2012, 10:21:25 AM »

I really liked how the story managed to raise so many difficult questions about the ethics of cloning without feeling like a psa or lecture. In particular, the scene where the reporter questions NotSara could have been heavy-handed, but instead I really empathized with NotSara's predicament. The jumping around in the timeline didn't work well in audio (some sort of header or change in the voice filter could have helped?) but I'm glad that those scenes were included because I felt they added a lot to the story. Overall, this was a really sad, thought-provoking story.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.20 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!