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Author Topic: EP336: The Speed of Time  (Read 2229 times)
eytanz
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« on: March 17, 2012, 02:57:43 AM »

EP336: The Speed of Time

By Jay Lake

Read by Josh Roseman

Originally appeared at Tor.com

---

“Light goes by at the speed of time,” Marlys once told me.

That was a joke, of course. Light can be slowed to a standstill in a photon trap, travel on going nowhere at all forever in the blueing distance of an event horizon, or blaze through hard vacuum as fast as information itself moves through the universe. Time is relentless, the tide which measures the perturbations of the cosmos. The 160.2 GHz hum of creation counts the measure of our lives as surely as any heartbeat.

There is no t in e=mc2.

I’d argued with her then, missing her point back when understanding her might have mattered. Now, well, nothing much at all mattered. Time has caught up with us all.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Magic Smoke
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2012, 09:34:30 PM »

I liked the story, but it left me wanting more. There was lots of juicy material left unexplored. For example, there was no explanation for the "Big Ears". I'm assuming that they're some sort of cosmic internet antenna, but what are they used for? Is their sole purpose listening to random radio traffic? Is this an activity that people in this universe regularly engage in?
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2012, 08:57:26 AM »

I liked this week's story infodump.
It was a tantalizing glimpse into the [deep voice]world of tomorrow[/deep voice].
But that's all it was, just a tantalizing glimpse. Nothing more.
We saw some elements of a new religion (Hubbardism?), the merging of Chinese and Western cultures out in the black (already seen in Firefly), some interesting tech and a novel way to destroy the universe.
What I didn't like was that not a single one of these elements was fleshed out or brought to fruition.
If this were some sort of teaser-trailer for a novel or series of books that would be great. But I'm not sure that it was.
To finish on a positive note: I liked the Mecca-pointer for finding the center of the world. We had discussed monotheistic religions in space in the past, and this seemed like an obvious and clever solution.

Did anybody understand how a "boson gun" (presumably it was a Higgs boson gun, since it was supposed to add mass to the submarine) could tear a whole in the fabric of reality somewhere out in the Kuiper belt that will kill most, but not all humans and yet leave everything else untouched? And don't you dare answer with the old "scifi/magic" response. This was an infodump with the most crucial bit of info missing.
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childoftyranny
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2012, 02:52:51 PM »

This reminded the most of free-form poetry written by high school students, many thoughts, no connection between them. I listened to this story twice through because I thought I must have misses something or hit fast forward on it but no what I heard was what I heard...this one must have just gone over my head.
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NoNotRogov
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2012, 03:38:05 PM »

I liked this week's story infodump.
It was a tantalizing glimpse into the [deep voice]world of tomorrow[/deep voice].
But that's all it was, just a tantalizing glimpse. Nothing more.
We saw some elements of a new religion (Hubbardism?), the merging of Chinese and Western cultures out in the black (already seen in Firefly), some interesting tech and a novel way to destroy the universe.
What I didn't like was that not a single one of these elements was fleshed out or brought to fruition.
If this were some sort of teaser-trailer for a novel or series of books that would be great. But I'm not sure that it was.
To finish on a positive note: I liked the Mecca-pointer for finding the center of the world. We had discussed monotheistic religions in space in the past, and this seemed like an obvious and clever solution.

Did anybody understand how a "boson gun" (presumably it was a Higgs boson gun, since it was supposed to add mass to the submarine) could tear a whole in the fabric of reality somewhere out in the Kuiper belt that will kill most, but not all humans and yet leave everything else untouched? And don't you dare answer with the old "scifi/magic" response. This was an infodump with the most crucial bit of info missing.

The Hubbard reference was I think to the Church of Scientology, which was founded by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard.

From my perspective, the bits and pieces of narratives about different characters in different eras combined to form a coherent non-chronological narrative; like a cosmically nihilistic Pulp Fiction. It would just have been nice if either the segments had been expanded to make the framing device unnecessary (expansion on Sameera Glasshouse or on the Imam who she ostensibly pushed in the direction of spreading the search for God's voice/the proton pulse among humanity and thus leading to the pseudo-Rapture in approximately 2088) or if the framing device itself had been expanded. I can see the utility of having every bit of dialogue of Marlys actually be a lonely reminiscence by the Narrator; but his memory of an actual two-sided conversation they had, or of a scene rather than just a line of dialogue, would have helped build up the narrative tension for the revelatory conclusion at the end of the story.

Overall I can't stay mad at a story that fits in both a 1988 Soviet particle accelerator and an intersexed ethnically Lebanese technician, not to mention a small tangent about solar economics that I found myself wanting expanded (someone needs to write a fictional economics essay from the standpoint of a person living in a future or alternate history setting).
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2012, 07:45:48 AM »



The Hubbard reference was I think to the Church of Scientology, which was founded by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard.

Aww nuts, you're right. I had forgotten about that.
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Anarquistador
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2012, 10:31:14 AM »

I'm always fascinated by speculation on how religion and/or spirituality would develop if we ever leave this planet and colonize the rest of the galaxy. There were a lot of fascinating things that just flashed by too quickly. The NINE-Fold Path?! Buddhism added a new virtue?! I really want to know what it was!
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« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2012, 09:04:18 AM »

I hadn't even realized that there was a new episode, buried as it was in the midst of 4 Buffy articles.  It would be really nice if the nonfiction were separated off somehow so that the fiction was easier to find.  Maybe I should go make a thread to suggest it.  Off I go.  (Will download the story when I get home again)
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2012, 09:37:42 AM »

I hadn't even realized that there was a new episode, buried as it was in the midst of 4 Buffy articles.  It would be really nice if the nonfiction were separated off somehow so that the fiction was easier to find.  Maybe I should go make a thread to suggest it.  Off I go.  (Will download the story when I get home again)

Buffy is fiction too Tongue
But this can easily be solved with a slightly advanced RSS aggregator, one that knows what to do with mp3 files (the less advanced ones can only handle text). For example: I use Amarok. There might be a windows installer somewhere for you poor souls still stuck with that.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2012, 10:30:38 AM »

This one elicited much the same response as Site 14 - a setup without a story. I kept on waiting for the narrative to really begin, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting... And then it ended. Definitely a big miss with me, but not for any exciting reasons. It just felt like somehow the middle of the story was missing.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2012, 11:13:46 AM »

I hadn't even realized that there was a new episode, buried as it was in the midst of 4 Buffy articles.  It would be really nice if the nonfiction were separated off somehow so that the fiction was easier to find.  Maybe I should go make a thread to suggest it.  Off I go.  (Will download the story when I get home again)

Buffy is fiction too Tongue
But this can easily be solved with a slightly advanced RSS aggregator, one that knows what to do with mp3 files (the less advanced ones can only handle text). For example: I use Amarok. There might be a windows installer somewhere for you poor souls still stuck with that.

Buffy is fiction, but reviews of Buffy are not.

It could also be resolved by posting only a summary on the main page so that 90% of a single page is not occupied by the nonfiction articles.

But I started a thread to make suggestions about it here, so rather than gab about it here further I'll post the link:
http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=6159.0
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Balu
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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2012, 06:01:32 PM »

I liked this week's story infodump.
It was a tantalizing glimpse into the [deep voice]world of tomorrow[/deep voice].
But that's all it was, just a tantalizing glimpse. Nothing more.
We saw some elements of a new religion (Hubbardism?), the merging of Chinese and Western cultures out in the black (already seen in Firefly), some interesting tech and a novel way to destroy the universe.
What I didn't like was that not a single one of these elements was fleshed out or brought to fruition.

That's often the way with the best stuff on here. It's good precisely because the writer doesn't explain everything.

I like the mystery and sense of 'here be monsters' that you get with these briefly glimpsed worlds.

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Devoted135
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« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2012, 09:34:26 AM »

This happens every once in a while where a story is merely a smattering of vignettes that are so out of order and so full of hand-wavy technobabble that I find it incomprehensible. Plus there was all of the annoying faux philosophizing. I was tempted to give it another shot, but then decided that even at only 20 minutes or so I just don't have the patience for it.
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Makefile
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« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2012, 04:55:19 PM »

This story introduced so many great ideas without exploring a single one of them.

I loved the time disconnect, the future of religion, the solar system economy, but none of these was ever really developed.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2012, 05:33:10 PM »

As I suspected, the lack of focus or narrative did not make this popular. I thought it had a lot of interesting ideas and Lakeish whimsy, but it could have benefited from more of a plot.

My biggest problem was one of pronunciation - I've always heard of the moon of Saturn called "en-SELL-a-dis", not "en-saLAD-dus", which makes it sound like Saturnian-Mexician cuisine.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2012, 09:35:52 AM »

Lots of interesting ideas in this one, but no story.  I don't mind details of the setting being unexplained to entice further thought.  But I really want a story.  I did not care what happened to the characters.  I felt no tension.  Bleh.

Did anybody understand how a "boson gun" (presumably it was a Higgs boson gun, since it was supposed to add mass to the submarine) could tear a whole in the fabric of reality somewhere out in the Kuiper belt that will kill most, but not all humans and yet leave everything else untouched? And don't you dare answer with the old "scifi/magic" response. This was an infodump with the most crucial bit of info missing.

Parts of the story made it sound like there wasn't conclusive evidence that all those other people died, or at least evidence that they were killed by the Boson gun.  There were no bodies.  The narrator theorized, I think, that the gun changed the timescale at which some people live, so that the rest of human civilization collapses around them unseen in a blink and that they could live long enough to see the sun burn out.  So the other people are probably dead, but died in ordinary ways.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2012, 11:36:12 AM »

Also, I thought the name "Glasshouse" was an interesting one.  I wonder if that's meant to refer to the expression "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones"?
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Cattfish
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« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2012, 09:01:13 PM »

The end of this one felt like a Stephen Baxter novel... Its the End of the universe, I feel fine. And I thought it was an interesting weapon to simply throw someone into a different timespeed. But... like last weeks story it's kind of a fluff story. Good and sweet but not very filling.
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« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2012, 08:35:58 AM »

My biggest problem was one of pronunciation - I've always heard of the moon of Saturn called "en-SELL-a-dis", not "en-saLAD-dus", which makes it sound like Saturnian-Mexician cuisine.

I probably should've looked that up. A cursory googling indicates that the first pronunciation was correct, not the second. My bad.
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Talia
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« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2012, 09:21:52 PM »

Not entirely sure what happened here, but I enjoyed the concepts introduced so much that I didn't care. If a story (and this was a story) can keep my interest, a certain amount of nonsensicalness is acceptable in my book.
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eytanz
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« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2012, 05:59:35 AM »

The second story in two weeks (or, in my case, over the same lunchbreak) that was concept-driven and vague rather than plot-driven, this one worked far better for me than The Water Man did. I think my response was very similar to Talia's - not exactly sure what happened, but I was interested throughout. Maybe I'll give this one a re-listen and have more to say about it.
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Lionman
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« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2012, 06:45:13 AM »

I'm in the same camp as Magic Smoke.  I think this story was nice, but it just left me wanting to know more, to hear more to get more details about the universe and the way people live in life after. Are they 'rebuilding'? Are they continuing to die out?
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« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2012, 08:57:21 AM »

Not entirely sure what happened here, but I enjoyed the concepts introduced so much that I didn't care. If a story (and this was a story) can keep my interest, a certain amount of nonsensicalness is acceptable in my book.

I certainly can't knock nonsense, since Lewis Carroll is one of my all-time favorite authors.  I guess I like my nonsense with humor, though.
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Gamercow
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« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2012, 01:03:10 PM »

I agree that this was an infodump of variously loosely connected vignettes with no real resolution or tie-together.  I can't say that I disliked any of the ideas involved, but the work as a whole left me flat.  Regarding the ideas, I'm a huge fan of relativity and all that is involved, I'd love to see a very good story about relativity, and not just time dilation, but the idea behind relativity that this story touched on, that being things look very different depending on your point of view.

As for the boson gun:  Maybe the gun had a poor targeting system, and instead of piling a whole bunch of mass in one place, it kept accumulating mass until it hit something akin to Chandrasekar Limit, and collapsed into a universe-ripping black hole? As for why it only affected certain people, I have no answer given the data. 
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« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2012, 09:10:37 PM »

This story succeeded in making time stop. Or maybe go on forever. At least it felt that way while I was listening.

This story introduced so many great ideas without exploring a single one of them.

^

I didn't really care for either this one or the Water Man. Greater temporal separation would have made these seem like less a waste of time.
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« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2012, 12:36:15 PM »

I didn't like this one at all.  I kept waiting for the story to start but there never seemed to be any “there” there.   It felt like mostly narration, no characters to care about, and the vague references to mysterious things were not explored enough to be interesting. 

I don't mind when authors throw in half-explained concepts such as boson guns somehow destroying the universe – when they do it in the context of an actual story.
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #26 on: April 12, 2012, 09:13:33 PM »

Add me to the "Where's the Story?" camp on this one. The ending caught my mind wandering unsupervised...
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LaShawn
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« Reply #27 on: May 17, 2012, 12:11:14 PM »

Me too. This one was mainly technobabble to me. Which is interesting because I believe it had something in common with the previous story, the Water Man. But whereas I really enjoyed the latter, this one had me scratching me head. Too much went over my head. I'll have to look at the comments and get more up to speed.
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