Escape Artists
September 22, 2014, 03:09:01 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: EP333: Asteroid Monte  (Read 3668 times)
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4655



« on: February 24, 2012, 10:10:21 AM »

EP333: Asteroid Monte

By Craig DeLancey

Read by Rajan Khanna

Originally appeared in Analog

---

“You don’t look like an omnivore.”
I was supposed to spend the next several years working side-by-side
with this bear monster thing from an unpronounceable planet, and the
first words she speaks to me are these.
“Excuse me?”
“Your teeth are flat,” she hissed. “Like a herbivore’s.”
I had been waiting in the tiered square outside the Hall of Harmony,
main office of the Galactic police force officially called the
Harmonizers, but which everyone really called the Predators.
Neelee-ornor is one of those planets that makes me a believer. Cities
crowd right into forests as thick as the Amazon, and both somehow thrive
with riotous abandon. It proves the Galactic creed really means
something. Something worth fighting for. Something that could get me
to take this thankless job.
So I waited to meet my partner, as I sat on a cool stone bench under a
huge branch dripping green saprophytes. The air was damp but smelled,
strangely, like California after the rain, when I would leave CalTech
and hike into the hills. I almost didn’t want her to show, so I could
sit and enjoy it.
I really knew only three things about her. She had about two e-years
under her belt as a Predator. She was a Sussuratian, a race of fierce
bearlike carnivores evolved from predatory pack animals, only a century
ahead of humanity in entering Galactic Culture. And she was named
Briaathursiasaliantiormethessess.
God help me.
I rose awkwardly every time a Sussuratian passed, only to sit again
after it walked on. Finally I gave up, and then a moment later a
Sussuratian bounded out of the passing crowds, and addressed me with
this comment about my eating habits.
I sprung off the bench and bowed slightly. “I am Tarkos.” We were
talking Galactic. But my Galactic is pretty good, really. Better than
hers, I was betting. Her name, however, was a Sussuratian name, and in
that language a human larynx was hopeless. Well, here goes. “I am
honored to meet you Briaathursiasaliantiormethessess.”
She was about six feet long, with short dark fur that had black and
green and gold patterns in it reminiscent of a boa. She was a
quadraped, and walked on all fours, her claws clicking. Now she sat
back on her haunches and put her front hands together, threading the
seven claws on one hand through the seven on the other. The effect was
a Kodiak holding a bouquet of knives. Her four eyes — two large green
ones set below two small black ones — fixed on me.
“I am called Briaathursiasaliantiormethessess,” she said.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
Logged
Listener
Hipparch
******
Posts: 3169


I place things in locations which later elude me.


WWW
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2012, 05:21:53 PM »

In the beginning, I didn't know if I was going to like this story or not, but it grew on me quickly. There was a goodly amount of info dumped on us in the form of Connor McIrishGuy's recruitment speech, and enough science-y bits without too much overload. I think the action slowed down in the fight between Bria/Tarkos and the centipede dudes' ship, because of all the physics stuff, but it was okay.

The concept of humans NOT being the AWESOMEST ADDITIONS TO THE GALACTIC CIVILIZATION EVAR!!!!11111one is something I enjoy. And Bria's explanation of herbivores vs carnivores was cool too.
Logged

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

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42
zerotkatama
Extern
*
Posts: 10


« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2012, 05:59:12 PM »

I enjoyed this story; I thought it was a fun space opera-y tale.

I also am interested in the juxtaposition of Briaa's "Predatory Theory" vs something like Dr. Erskine's speech in Captain America about those without power are the ones who respect it (paraphrasing, of course)
Logged
sambot
Silent
*
Posts: 1


« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2012, 03:09:12 PM »

I'm with zerotkatama. I liked the big space opera feel to it. Also, it was nice to hear the language problem addressed, by the fact that our protagonist and Briaa were speaking a common "Galactic" language with each other, rather than magically understanding each other with Universal Translators or Babelfish or just by assuming that all aliens speak English. More in this universe would definitely work for me.
Logged
Dem
Lochage
*****
Posts: 554


aka conboyhillfiction.wordpress.com


WWW
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2012, 08:27:41 AM »

Aah, call me an unreconstructed old space cadet if you like, but I loved this. Confident fictional science, believable aliens who nevertheless couldn't push a button to save their lives because they have 'claws like a handful of knives', maverick hero, fanciful space ships. I say again Aaah! A cracking good adventure tale, crackingly well read by Rajan whose subtle accent hints were on the button, and a satisfying 'off we go again' last line that promises more.
And the herbivore thing? I came across this many moons ago studying ethology when it was observed that doves, having no weapons, will peck an opponent to death if provoked. I'm not sure where this theory leaves cows though.
Logged

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.
Max e^{i pi}
Hipparch
******
Posts: 891


Have towel, will travel.


« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2012, 08:33:51 AM »

Wow. I loved everything about this.  Grin
Epic classic-y space opera, a brand new and interesting little universe where humans are not only not considered to be the best thing to happen to the galaxy, but actually feared for a host of other reasons. Mainly by being omnivores, unpredictable and just all around human beings.
Humans as a minority in space? Yes please.
Modern Earth-bound politics not being magically cured (yes, it's a disease) by contact with the Great And Enlightened Galactic Civilization? Hells yeah.
Topsy-turvy view of predator-prey politics? Lords yes.
Norm Sherman trying to quote Chris Tucker's excellent ghetto-speak? Priceless.
Aside: Norm is an excellent voice actor and I have nothing but the utmost respect for his talents. But ghetto-speak just isn't one of them. For a great showcase of those talents, check out The Guild of the Cowry Catchers

The Green-Disk immediately put me in the mind of Alastair Reynolds' Galactic North and I was sort of hoping for a story where our mismatched heroes have to save the galactic civilization from some idiot's folly.
But this, this is better. Just a couple of less-than-average beat cops on a more-than-routine assignment.

Also I like how not every ship is equipped to travel between star systems and that the cops need to hitch rides with larger ships.

And I love the language thing, like sambot, I'm glad that nobody speaks English and that there's is no magical solution. But how can you create a galactic standard language that is pronounceable by every known sentient species, not to mention can be heard by them all? Mind you, this pondering only began after the fact, I was far too caught up in the story to let things like that bother me.

Also, can we discuss the carnivor-omnivore-herbivore thing? I am no biologist, but I've always that that herbivores were weak, having evolved no aggression (it doesn't take much to beat the crap out of standing grasses) and that carnivores are strong. Similarly, herbivores would be compassionate and empathic (we see that behavior with many herbivore species on Earth) and carnivores would be rather ruthless (we see a lot of that as well). One would think that a herbivore society that evolved to be the dominant species on its planet, and then set off into space wouldn't be well equipped to handle it.
On the other hand, a herbivore society that evolved to be the dominant species on its planet, and then set off into space would need some kind of drive, and some way of looking out for itself.
The Animorphs series' Andalites are a good example of herbivores that conquered space, but they have both aggression and compassion.
Larry Niven's Puppeteers are herbivores that conquered space and have zero aggression. They are notorious cowards and prefer to win their wars through centuries-long manipulations that make the results of the (inevitable) war a forgone conclusion. That same universe also contains the Kzin, a carnivore species that not only conquered space, but several other advanced races as well. They had zero compassion, until meddled with by the Puppeteers.
That model seemed to make a lot of sense to me, but so does Bria's theory.
In any event, it makes Humans (omnivores) unpredictable and thus feared.
Logged

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!

AGeekDad
Silent
*
Posts: 1


« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2012, 04:20:18 PM »

Long time listener, but this is the first time I've commented.  Also the first time I so wanted to hear more from an author that I came here looking to see what else Craig was written.  I really would like to hear more stories from him in this universe.
Logged
Killerkayak
Silent
*
Posts: 3


« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2012, 09:50:49 PM »

Really liked this story.  Science fiction, didn't drag a story on and on and on like some of the recent ones.  Good aliens, good "universe" created in enough detail to make the story work.  Would like to hear more stories by the author. 
Logged
jk_jackel
Extern
*
Posts: 12



« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2012, 02:35:02 AM »

I really enjoyed this one too. I always enjoy reading a good old fashioned sci-fi tale, and this was definitely one. I especially loved the 'Predator Theory.' And the slight hints at the human race have dwindled, a reference to earth as a devastated planet? And towards the end, noting that he knows a lot about refugees. Im really intrigued to find out what happened to earth.
Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 6263



WWW
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2012, 10:27:09 AM »

This story was okay.  The most interesting thing about it was the theory of applying classification of digestion toward classification of civilization behavior.  Some of the rest was interesting, but more along the lines of lecture-y hard SF that I don't generally dig.  I was interested enough to listen to the whole thing, but I never felt tense about the outcome, I was never really emotionally invested, which is what I'm most interested in when hearing a story.

Also, can we discuss the carnivor-omnivore-herbivore thing? I am no biologist, but I've always that that herbivores were weak, having evolved no aggression (it doesn't take much to beat the crap out of standing grasses) and that carnivores are strong. Similarly, herbivores would be compassionate and empathic (we see that behavior with many herbivore species on Earth) and carnivores would be rather ruthless (we see a lot of that as well).

Those generalizations may often be true, but even on our planet not always. 
--Herbivores can be aggressive and strong.  Rhinos, elephants, for some immediate examples can both be aggressive and are definitely both strong.

Regarding compassion, I'm not sure exactly how to define compassion in a wild animal.  I guess the closest I'd come is considering how social they are.
--Some herbivores are not very social.  After a bit of cursory research, the male rhinos of at least some breeds are solitary creatures.
--Some carnivores are very social (and I would also say, have plenty of compassion).  Wolves would be the most obvious example.

I think the (herbi/omni/carni)-vore classification of interstellar civilization is an interesting one that seems to make some sense.  I think it makes sense for herbivores to have potential to be spacefarers, but it also makes sense that they would be less common.
Logged

--David Steffen
The Submissions Grinder:  Fiction market listings, submissions tracker, always free, poetry and nonfiction markets coming soon!
Gamercow
Hipparch
******
Posts: 648



« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2012, 01:17:33 PM »

I'm not sure where this theory leaves cows though.

Outstanding in their fields, of course. 

This is probably my favorite story of the year so far, I would love to see a whole series in this universe.  The societal elements had that wonderful balance of familiar and strange, as did the alien races.  The story was well written, and even with the Chekov's spent seed launcher, I was very interested all the way through.  I didn't even trip over the "whole solar system is a big asteroid belt" impossibility, or the questionable space travel hand waving. Just a delightful story.

And if you want some aggressive herbivores?  Google "Hippo attack".  Suckers are nasty.

Logged

The cow says "Mooooooooo"
Max e^{i pi}
Hipparch
******
Posts: 891


Have towel, will travel.


« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2012, 01:49:57 PM »

Regarding compassion, I'm not sure exactly how to define compassion in a wild animal.  I guess the closest I'd come is considering how social they are.
--Some herbivores are not very social.  After a bit of cursory research, the male rhinos of at least some breeds are solitary creatures.
--Some carnivores are very social (and I would also say, have plenty of compassion).  Wolves would be the most obvious example.
Wolves are only compassionate to other wolves. That seems to make the case that carnivores are in worse than herbivores, they only show mercy to their own species. Can you say "kill all non-us"?
Logged

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!

Gamercow
Hipparch
******
Posts: 648



« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2012, 02:01:11 PM »

Oh, and someone needs to tell Norm how to pronounce Rajan Khanna's name. 
Logged

The cow says "Mooooooooo"
Dem
Lochage
*****
Posts: 554


aka conboyhillfiction.wordpress.com


WWW
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2012, 02:45:10 PM »

I'm not sure where this theory leaves cows though.

Outstanding in their fields, of course. 


I don't say LOL. You are my first (and possibly last) LOL!  Grin
Logged

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.
Scattercat
Caution:
Editor
*****
Posts: 4315


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2012, 04:42:13 PM »

Wolves can be compassionate to other animals.  What the heck do you think a dog is?

Or, heck, how about dolphins.  They definitely eat other animals, and yet are also quite capable of forming friendships and relationships across species lines.

Basically, the whole carnivore/herbivore thing doesn't make much sense, other than in the same way that, for example, racism here on Earth 'makes sense'.  People tend to form sweeping generalizations about those perceived as Other.  The whole thing was just a way to make humans special via stealth, anyway.  That's why the protagonist is able to solve all the problems, remember?  He's unpredictable because he's not an herbivore OR a carnivore, but an OMNIvore.  :-P  It's the same old "humans are more adaptable/creative/diverse" trope, just with a different justification.
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
Fenrix
Curmudgeon
EA Staff
*****
Posts: 2434


Have you found the Yellow Sign?


« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2012, 05:55:14 PM »

Basically, the whole carnivore/herbivore thing doesn't make much sense, other than in the same way that, for example, racism here on Earth 'makes sense'. 

This is how I saw it. I think people are spending too much time on understanding the theory, and not enough time understanding the character. That theory is Briaa's worldview, not necessarily the author's framing of the story. I took it to be as much about the character as the description of the facial expressions and pronunciation descriptions as anything else. Briaa's mistrust of herbivores is not necessarily any different than folks thinking Mexicans are lazy or that Jews are greedy. It just doesn't feel as offensive since we have less of a frame of reference for it.

The world building was great. I tuned out during the nanotech infodump, but the world kept me engaged.
 
Logged

I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Max e^{i pi}
Hipparch
******
Posts: 891


Have towel, will travel.


« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2012, 01:41:27 AM »

Wolves can be compassionate to other animals.  What the heck do you think a dog is?
Not a wolf, and technically an omnivore (dog owners can back me up on this).

Also, if I was going to name a fictitious species after the word "susurrus" it would not be a huge bear-like creature. Probably something mostly non-corporeal.
Logged

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!

Scattercat
Caution:
Editor
*****
Posts: 4315


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2012, 01:52:02 AM »

Wolves are also omnivores, if we're counting dogs as omnivores.  And dogs and wolves are nearly identical, from a genetic standpoint; you can breed back and forth without any problems (other than sometimes one party attempting to kill the other party instead of mate with them.  Wolves are touchy.)  If you get a wolf cub young, you can socialize it like a dog and it will be about as "tame", whatever that means.  (The period of socialization is just much longer in domesticated dog species, and it tends to "take" better in the sense that tamed wolves will more quickly revert to feral/wild than tamed dogs.)
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 6263



WWW
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2012, 10:07:59 AM »

Wolves are also omnivores, if we're counting dogs as omnivores.  And dogs and wolves are nearly identical, from a genetic standpoint; you can breed back and forth without any problems (other than sometimes one party attempting to kill the other party instead of mate with them.  Wolves are touchy.)  If you get a wolf cub young, you can socialize it like a dog and it will be about as "tame", whatever that means.  (The period of socialization is just much longer in domesticated dog species, and it tends to "take" better in the sense that tamed wolves will more quickly revert to feral/wild than tamed dogs.)

Exactly.  I like your dolphin example even better than the wolf example.

Basically, the whole carnivore/herbivore thing doesn't make much sense, other than in the same way that, for example, racism here on Earth 'makes sense'.  People tend to form sweeping generalizations about those perceived as Other.  The whole thing was just a way to make humans special via stealth, anyway.  That's why the protagonist is able to solve all the problems, remember?  He's unpredictable because he's not an herbivore OR a carnivore, but an OMNIvore.  :-P  It's the same old "humans are more adaptable/creative/diverse" trope, just with a different justification.

That's an interesting view, which makes a lot of sense.  I think saying that it's equivalent to racism on our world is a bit of a stretch.  I mean, saying that hippos are fatter than sparrows is drawing conclusions about the two species, one which can be scientifically proven.

The thing about racism here is that we are all the same species so it's a much sounder conclusion to realize that we are all the same.  That's not the case with this diverse group of spacefarers who are not even from the same planet.  I am willing to believe that there may SOME pattern of species behavior by separating into omni/herbi/carni, I just don't think it's as clear-cut a separation as the bear thinks (which as others point out may just be the bear's opinion).
Logged

--David Steffen
The Submissions Grinder:  Fiction market listings, submissions tracker, always free, poetry and nonfiction markets coming soon!
olivaw
Peltast
***
Posts: 105



« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2012, 10:14:16 AM »

The whole story felt very Larry Niven to me. This is a good thing!

The herbivore bit, in particular, might have been an explicit shout-out to some of the conversations with Nessus and Speaker-To-Animals in Ringworld.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!