Author Topic: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says  (Read 18014 times)

TimothyAWiseman

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Reply #25 on: April 14, 2012, 06:55:21 PM
This story was fantastic.  It was creative, thought provoking, and almost poetic with its lovely repetitions.



Dem

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Reply #26 on: April 15, 2012, 02:19:15 PM
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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Reply #27 on: April 16, 2012, 03:59:26 PM
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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Reply #28 on: April 16, 2012, 05:40:48 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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Reply #29 on: April 20, 2012, 04:35:26 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.



Dem

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Reply #30 on: April 20, 2012, 01:22:41 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.
I'm with you, Monkey - 'a-BUY-a'

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.


hilmera

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Reply #31 on: April 22, 2012, 04:16:50 AM
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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Reply #32 on: April 22, 2012, 07:14:53 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. 

P.S: alternate title: Red Ring of Death

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aesculapius

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Reply #33 on: April 23, 2012, 01:10:49 AM
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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Reply #34 on: April 24, 2012, 03:41:54 PM
My spouse is an avid videogame player.

I understand him much better now.



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Reply #35 on: April 24, 2012, 05:29:20 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.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #36 on: April 24, 2012, 06:27:12 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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Reply #37 on: April 24, 2012, 08:15:00 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, 04:03:53 PM by CryptoMe »



Rembrandt

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Reply #38 on: April 25, 2012, 05:55:38 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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Reply #39 on: April 25, 2012, 10:26:59 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.



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #40 on: April 25, 2012, 10:11:36 PM

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.


See, I think you could desensitize people to anything with enough repetition. Sex, food, whatever. I think as a society we just get more concerned about the desensitizing people to violence, since that usually involves harming other people.



BlueLu

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Reply #41 on: April 26, 2012, 03:40:25 PM
This story was utterly brilliant.  Loved it.

Don't have much more to add.  Just...thanks!

Lena


SF.Fangirl

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Reply #42 on: April 27, 2012, 03:16:31 AM
This is easily my favorite story of the year so far. ....  So enjoyable. Thank you, Mr. Steinmetz.

YES!  Although not "fun", it was good and engaging which I cannot say for the previous two stories.  I started both, grew bored, and haven't finised yet.  "'Run', Bakari Says" was good and I was happy to listen to such an excellent story.



FireTurtle

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Reply #43 on: April 30, 2012, 02:40:41 AM
I dont' think I've commented anywhere on Escape Artists for months. This story brought me completely out of my non-commenting apathetic black hole.

I loved it. I love it for the poetical nature of the repetition of the title phrase. I loved it for the frustration. (Yes, I did think of Run, Lola, Run and not Groundhog Day while I was listening.) I laughed when I heard the description of the xbox thingamajig that ran the loop. It didn't matter to me if it was made out of cardboard boxes held together my duct tape, xboxes, or Amazium atoms cooled to a hyper dense state. I think the machine was meant to point the finger directly at the reader: look what we become when we play these games. Do you ever really think about it when your hapless avatar appears yet again in the same damn place over and over? In a way, thats you, granted, a virtual you, doing the same thing over and over until you get it right.
 
Also, reminded me of Einstein's definition of insanity to the effect of: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Well, that's what we had here. In a really scary way. The asshole at the beginning was that guy.

In regards to the more contemporary political setting, I must say that I have to agree with everyone else. It served as an unnecessary emotional trigger for me that I don't believe actually advanced the plot in a meaningful way. This is my singular quibble.

The other quibble (or major hangup, for some of you) that has been bandied about its the "lack of characterization". I thought that was deliberate or if it wasn't, it was a brilliant irony. Irena is essentially a character in her brother's xbox reality game. And Bakri's. Her humanity, her past, her feelings, aren't necessary for her to carry out the mission. In fact, it is only when she loses her humanity that she is able to complete the mission. She is a living avatar, and so I feel her lack of "reality" only emphasizes this point. "Who" she is doesn't matter, only the "mission". That's what I loved about it.

As someone else pointed out, many of us have a sensation of being the pawn or avatar for someone else at some point in our lives, and it is a fairly old theme. The oldest film reference that springs to mind is Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times", a commentary on the dissolution of humanity through a different form of repetition (albeit from a more socialist perspective).

Analysis aside, as with most stories, I either like something a lot or don't, and its not always easy to put my finger on why. This time, I liked the pace, the distance, the irony, and the satisfying conclusion. For me, it worked.

Now, this is what happens when I go to long without commenting. Good Lord. 

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
Ursula K. LeGuin


El Barto

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Reply #44 on: April 30, 2012, 11:53:05 AM
Part of what I really like about listening to each episode at least a week after it has been posted is coming to the forums to read the feedback and musings of other listeners.  It often gives me perspectives I hadn't considered before, though I sometimes feel like a free-rider by consuming a bunch of early feedback instead of contributing early in the cycle.

In this case I agree with all the comments about this being a great story overall, the X-Box idea feeling out of place, and the memories of doing this myself so many times.  There's a whole new generation of kids right now who are experiencing a lite version of this frustration as they play Angry Birds and then call in the Mighty Eagle when they get too stuck. 

Run Lola Run was a great movie for those who haven't seen it.

Of course it remains possible that we ourselves are living in a simulation right now, and we are in a loop right now, as some kid somewhere fights a boss (an algebra quiz?) beyond our perception.  (http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2011/09/are-we-living-in-a-simulation/)




Dem

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Reply #45 on: April 30, 2012, 12:28:08 PM
What? I was here before? Damn!

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.


Cattfish

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Reply #46 on: May 06, 2012, 07:08:51 PM
I think most people covered everything I was gonna say already, except that, ok she goes years and years doing the iteration over and over, finally getting into the complex, and then she gets to her brother perfectly in one try?  I'm thinking she would be so set in her loop that once she got out of the guards part she would be totally unable to function at all!



Zedonius

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Reply #47 on: May 21, 2012, 09:20:31 PM
I think most people covered everything I was gonna say already, except that, ok she goes years and years doing the iteration over and over, finally getting into the complex, and then she gets to her brother perfectly in one try?  I'm thinking she would be so set in her loop that once she got out of the guards part she would be totally unable to function at all!

This also troubled me a bit (not so much that the story was ruined, because I really did enjoy it). Once she gets in the compound it seems that she would have had trouble adapting to a new situation, having repeated the same iteration of events over and over for years. She seemed very decisive for entering the compound for the first time, and that just didn't ring true. It was as if the author made the three guards at the beginning the challenge she had to overcome, but it seems to me that after years of perfecting her technique into the compound, the narrator would truly struggle with the unknowns that exist inside the prison.

This makes the ending seem rushed, throwing a kink into what is a really compelling, immersive story.

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And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
luckier." -Walt Whitman


childoftyranny

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Reply #48 on: May 22, 2012, 10:05:20 AM
Now, this is what happens when I go to long without commenting. Good Lord. 

Thank goodness they finally invented the e-cigarette for just this situation.



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Reply #49 on: May 22, 2012, 02:18:17 PM
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.

I'm going to say that the word "desensitize" itself can apply to a broad spectrum of things, like your orange juice example.  The difference is that NO ONE CARES if you have desensitized yourself to orange juice.  "Go find yourself another beverage and stop whining," they would say.  Likewise, anything that you can be sensitive too you can be densensitized to.  Your average teenager is very sensitive to all things sex.  As a person ages, typically they will become desensitized to sex, due to hormones leveling out and perhaps from finding a long-term partner (at least as compared to a horny teenager).  If it drops too much, people might investigate drugs or experiences, or new partners, in an attempt to re-stoke their libido, but generally one does not call that "desensitization to sex".  I think it's just because the word has become a media buzzword for the degradation of culture, for adults to criticize youth.

The word, as commonly used (especially in news stories and other media) is usually applied to being desensitized to violence.  The reason for that, I think, is because we have decided that ideally we desire a higher sensitivity to violence, presumably as a deterrant to violence;  I don't think that desired high violence sensitivity is necessarily a foregone conclusion but is an ideal of our modern society, unlike many past societies where a powerful warrior who was able to kill would be more of an ideal (Imagine Beowulf being squeamish at the sight of blood).  "Kids these days are exposed to too many violent video games," this kind of argument tends to go, "so they have become desensitized to violence and will become violent themselves."  (I've always thought that a flawed argument, but I am probably digressing too much here to really debate further)