Author Topic: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says  (Read 13369 times)

Cutter McKay

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2012, 07:08:14 AM »
I think the difference is in the circumstances. There's a huge difference between reporting on a benign - if ridiculous - winter ritual in the peace of the U.S., and breaking into a military prison in the Middle East in war time. The latter situation could drive you insane without a time loop.

You're right. The difference is not only in the circumstances of the situation, but also, I think, in the amount of time. In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray has, what, 16-20 hours every day to deal with his situation; plenty of time to accomplish his goals while also having the freedom of leisure and comfort. Irena, on the other hand, had I believe forty minutes in each iteration, not to mention her initial discomfort. So I fully agree that the circumstances are what make this different from other time loop stories and I think that's what makes me love it so, even though it's been done before.

Also, I don't think the main character in this story lost her sanity. She lost her ability to see Bakri and the guards as humans, because while she was repeating her actions, they weren't.

But she also recognized that she had lost that perspective as a result of the time loop; as soon as she was no longer in it, she regained her ability to recognize someone as, not a video game obstacle to be overcome, but another person, to be recognized as an individual and loved for it.

I concede this point. Insanity was the wrong choice of word. More proper would be to say that she lost her humanity. In being stuck in the machine, she became a machine herself. And, looking back at it now from this vantage, I think her return to humanity once she was finally free of the loop is what makes this story so powerful to me. I didn't fully realize that at first, but now I see.

“I don’t have to kill you,” she says, smelling his hair, feeling his
clothes, loving him more than anyone she’s ever loved before.


Her return to humanity is the triumph of the story, not her victory over the "end boss". Even in the face of the fact that she just cold-bloodedly murdered her own brother. Great story.
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Wilson Fowlie

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2012, 02:02:24 PM »
Her return to humanity is the triumph of the story, not her victory over the "end boss".

Just how I feel.

Even in the face of the fact that she just cold-bloodedly murdered her own brother. Great story.

She came to a deep, visceral understanding of what the use of this technology means: what it does to a user and what it might mean for humanity. She knew that it couldn't be allowed to continue to exist, or even be known about any more.

She may have come to hate Sammi for inventing it, or not, but I think she came to the conclusion that, whether she still loved him or not, he simply could not continue to live. Possibly, if she could have figured out how to erase his memory/understanding of the machine, she might have chosen to do so, but that wasn't an option.

It was a quick murder, but it may not have been easy, for all that. (That said, she could well have come to hate Sammi by the time she got to him, so it could have been done in cold blood.)

However, what is something of a shame is that her killing of Sammi and Bakri in order to keep the technology from humanity was, ultimately, futile. If a technology can be discovered once, it can be discovered again (and, if necessary, again). And if it can be made, then eventually, no matter how horrific it is, someone will make it. She has only postponed the day of reckoning.

Fortunately for us all, I expect the technology described in the story is happily impossible.
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eytanz

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2012, 02:24:23 PM »
I don't think she hated Sammi - I think she still did love him, in some way, as evidenced by her making sure he enjoys his few moments of joy in the success of his invention before she killed him, and then doing it quickly. Furthermore, I don't think she killed him just for his knowledge of his invention - I think she killed him because of his delight in what it did to her (which I'm pretty sure she expected). She knew that he only values humans as potential weapons and not for their humanity. This wasn't a matter of knowledge of how it can be done - he was also not only willing to use it again, but he would have been happy to do so.

Mercurywaxing

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2012, 03:04:51 PM »
I loved the story not for the technology, but rather how it uses the technology to make a universal comment about war.  War is an endless sameness of boredom or violence.  Like in the story, inches become important and gained through time.  The sameness of the violence wears you down.  The curse of Irena was that she got to know the people she was killing.  At first that is a curse, then it dehumanizes you and you and they, like the guards, become not people but ideas of what they could do and others from the group they come from have done (it can be argued that in the story each set of guards were unique and different iterations).  Then, in the end, the war ends, the sameness breaks, and she becomes a person again.

Yeah, I liked this one.  A lot.

bluetube

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2012, 04:37:34 PM »
Despite its serious nature, or perhaps because of it, I enjoyed this story.

The idea of a "game style" save point and the ability to repeatedly try different strategies to get past an ordinarily impossible obstacle introduced interesting possibilities. The effect this had on the girl and her willingness to go through repeated deaths to achieve the final goal, but not before she had vented her frustration and anger on Bakri. Playing the game against the stated aims, just for the fun of it.

The ending was kind of unexpected, and potentially open-ended... does she go back to the save point and run through the scene again without harming Bakri and her brother, or does she walk out of there, staying in that time stream?

If I had to criticise the story, it could have been longer with more insight into the characters and their situation. Perhaps some views from the soldiers' perspective.

TimothyAWiseman

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #25 on: April 14, 2012, 01:55:21 PM »
This story was fantastic.  It was creative, thought provoking, and almost poetic with its lovely repetitions.

Dem

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #26 on: April 15, 2012, 09:19:15 AM »
I was not sold on the repetition although I see the point of it - the slow dehumanisation of the character and her ultimate, almost altruistic, decision. The problem for me was that I found the characterisations thin and unconvincing; as though the author really just saw them as vehicles for extended rumination over the killings. The premise is horrendous - gaming time loops and reboots brought into the real world with the consequence of almost interminable pain and psychological shock - but I needed to be alongside the characters, and they were not solid enough for me.
Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.

Magic Smoke

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2012, 10:59:26 AM »
Without question my favorite story this year. It's like Groundhog Day except Bill Murray goes insane and stats killing and torturing people for fun. And he kills his girlfriend at the end too. But I really did love the story's portrayal of how spending years repeating the same traumatizing minutes again and again chipped away at the humanity of a young girl (who would rather 'die' than kill someone else, even if they were an immediate threat), until she starts killing innocent people for her own amusement.

DKT

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #28 on: April 16, 2012, 12:40:48 PM »
Thirdly, After Ferret has given use this and Devourhttp://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=6090.0 we need to get him to think think happy thoughts, THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS!

Ferret gave us Devour? That's good - between this one and the unicorn one, I was beginning to think that I just didn't like his stories. I'm glad he also produced one of my favorites - yay for ambiguity!

He also wrote As Above, So Below (for those who don't regularly visit PodCastle, it's from the perspective of a Giant Monster Squid and is read by Norm Sherman).

I'm honestly disappointed this story was not nominated for a Hugo. It's my favorite of Ferrett's stories (although I'm terribly fond of the two we did at PodCastle, and, of course, Devour). It's all about breaking the cycle, and Ferrett's protagonist is so full of humanity, and I thought the ending was just absolute perfection. Hell of a story.

InfiniteMonkey

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #29 on: April 19, 2012, 11:35:26 PM »
I rather liked this. Especially as a meditation on the nature of video-game reality and its effect on a person's psyche. And not - I think - in the "they turn 'em all into psycho killers!" sort of way.

If there was any problem I had with it, was a very petty nitpick - I always thought the pronunciation of the article of clothing as an "a-BUY-a", rather than an "AB-a-yuh". But maybe that's just me.

Dem

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #30 on: April 20, 2012, 08:22:41 AM »
I rather liked this. Especially as a meditation on the nature of video-game reality and its effect on a person's psyche. And not - I think - in the "they turn 'em all into psycho killers!" sort of way.

If there was any problem I had with it, was a very petty nitpick - I always thought the pronunciation of the article of clothing as an "a-BUY-a", rather than an "AB-a-yuh". But maybe that's just me.
I'm with you, Monkey - 'a-BUY-a'
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hilmera

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #31 on: April 21, 2012, 11:16:50 PM »
I was captured by this story. Irena's everlasting now was believable and her inner life played out very well. The title's reprise through the story was a great hook for maintaining the tension and connecting with the story device of a short-term videogame save point rather than a full Groundhog Day. I loved it and listened to it half a dozen times over the weeks since it was posted.

That said, the lack of Arabisms in the language of the work was a problem. It would have been less of a problem if there was an explicit context of Americanized culture among the youth. The Xbox-obsessed bomb-maker wasn't quite enough to finish this beat. Perhaps they had all been Americanized before the invasion or maybe the story wasn't set in a current conflict country, but someplace like Lebanon where the mixing of cultures is better known and easier to use for this purpose. Irena's journey through the market every time would have been a great point to add some of this color.

That's the problem with sci-fi. A sci-fi story needs a strong hook and characterization to bring a reader in, but for some readers the hook isn't quite enough. Beyond the hook, the technological devices and the culture -- the world as a whole needs to be round enough. For me, this story succeeded, but it needs a little help for others.

Jeff C. Carter

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2012, 02:14:53 AM »
I enjoyed this story.  I love the looping time plot (Run Lola Run, Source Code...Quantum Leap?).  I love almost any story with a ‘mantra’, and I enjoy how loops and call backs create a strong rhythm.

This story made me wonder: is violence the only thing that can desensitize people?  It seems like repetition itself is capable of numbing the mind and reducing humans to the level of automatons.

A lot of posts made valid gripes about weak setting, technology and culture but Cutter McKay (via Scott Orson Card) made the best point, that this was an ‘idea’ story.

A long, painstaking explanation of the save point machine would have thrilled my geeky brain, but it really wasn’t necessary in order to tell an interesting science FICTION story.  I love hard sci-fi, but I love stories more. 

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aesculapius

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2012, 08:10:49 PM »
Unlike some of the other posters, I though this story's pacing was perfect, matching the content entirely. A case of form = function. The middle part of the story WAS long and dragged on, just like the protagonist's experience of the endless repetitions. And the end being "easy", I think, reflects the real way that games become after a certain point- everything just clicks, and a leap to the next stage is made. One of the best stories, I think, that EscapePod has put out.

(PS. Did nobody else think this was more like Run Lola Run than Groundhog Day)?

Pirvonen

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #34 on: April 24, 2012, 10:41:54 AM »
My spouse is an avid videogame player.

I understand him much better now.

Fenrix

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #35 on: April 24, 2012, 12:29:20 PM »
(PS. Did nobody else think this was more like Run Lola Run than Groundhog Day)?

I just think more folks are familiar with Groundhog Day than Run Lola Run. One's a big studio comedy starring Bill Murray, whereas the other is a foreign language art film.
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MontanaMax

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #36 on: April 24, 2012, 01:27:12 PM »
I loved this story and narration - definitely a favorite this year - and I found it more engaging and thoughtful than Groundhog day and Run Lola Run. But I did enjoy both of those movies too.

CryptoMe

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #37 on: April 24, 2012, 03:15:00 PM »
I liked this story. It was a great study of the character's slide into "cold-blooded killer" under a really bizarre set of pressures. The best part for me was at the end, when Irena takes back control of her humanity with the declaration that she doesn't have to kill the receptionist. Well done!

And a special thank you to Cutter McKay and Wilson Fowlie for some of the best discussion on this thread (though that may be because I agree with you ;) )
« Last Edit: May 31, 2012, 11:03:53 AM by CryptoMe »

Rembrandt

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #38 on: April 25, 2012, 12:55:38 AM »
Most of us can relate to this story if only for no other reason than that we live through it ourselves.
Only..our story is called "Trrrring!, the alarmclock says".

childoftyranny

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #39 on: April 25, 2012, 05:26:59 AM »
This story made me wonder: is violence the only thing that can desensitize people?  It seems like repetition itself is capable of numbing the mind and reducing humans to the level of automatons.

I'm going to say the violence is necessary for desensitization. Violence is the change, the difference that one is sensing and responding to. Repetition is a necessary mode of the process, but simply repeating something is not enough. One would not declare they are desensitized to orange juice because, despite how delicious it could be, the difference between it and other edibles isn't enough, there is no "violence" to it. Compare orange juice with kimchi, which can be quite hot; I've learned to trust Korean restauranteurs opinions on what counts as hot. You will know the difference this food and others, there is a clash, there is violence. When you can eat it without noticing that difference you are desensitized. That is why I propose that repetition is not enough to desensitize in and of itself, for there must be something sensational for one to become desensitized.