Author Topic: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says  (Read 13411 times)

InfiniteMonkey

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« 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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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« 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!
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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« 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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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« 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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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« 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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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #45 on: April 30, 2012, 12:28:08 PM »
What? I was here before? Damn!
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Cattfish

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« 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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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« 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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childoftyranny

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« 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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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« 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)

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #50 on: May 22, 2012, 02:35:11 PM »
This story was great!  Ferrett is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, between this story, "As Below, So Above", "Devour", and others.  He has the imagination to come up with new ideas or to put new twists on old ideas, add some patented Steinmetz flavor, add some interesting philosophy and emotional depth, and make it into something really brilliant.  At this point, I'm watching for his name in publications like I watch for Tim Pratt's (with anticipation of a riproaring tale).

This one I especially enjoyed because of its tie-in to video games, but there was plenty of food for thought even without it being related to one of my favorite pastimes.  I thought her change from trying not to kill anyone to ruthless killer was in-character and made complete and total sense.  If you see these guards making the same reactions every single time it would be very hard not to think of them as robots, or a science experiment (stimulus A prompts reaction B).

Sometimes I wonder about the stuff that I find funny, but I laughed loudly when she first shot Bakri, and then continued to shoot him for target practice.  What's even better, it totally made practical sense--she has had no weapons training, and has never killed a person before.  Especially with a trained sniper involved, doing your gun training in an active combat zone is foolhardy--even with automatic re-spawns it's not very productive.

The discussion that came up earlier about how 3-5 retries may make for a satisfying conclusion, but 10-20 becomes too frustrating, I can agree with that.  It brings a few games to mind:
--Ghouls and Ghosts and other games from a similar time period.  There are no saves.  You are a lone knight, with just a couple lives and a suit of armor.  If you get hit once, you lose your armor and run around in your undies.  If you get hit again before regaining your armor you lose a life.  If you lose all your lives you go all the way back to the beginning of the game and have to play through every damned level all over again.  Argh!  You thought the constant loading from save from frustrating!  I find that I just can't play this kind of game like I used to, partially because I don't have daily slots of many many hours to kill and no money to buy new games like I did in my teenage years.  And modern games have spoiled me, because they're never designed this way anymore.
--Deus Ex:  Human Revolution.  I played this game a few months ago, and generally liked it.  The game overall let you take the mission with a variety of tactics, blasting in the front door and killing everyone, incorporating hacking, stealth, to incapacitate your enemies quietly or to just sneak around them.  You could save anywhere at anytime, so generally the game wasn't too bad along the lines of saves.  And then you hit the first boss.  The making of the boss characters was outsourced, and it's pretty obvious that the makers didn't know what kind of game they were working with, because it's built as a fight more suited for Doom, wherein you must out-tank a tank character.  Unfortunately, at this point, I'd made inventory and augmentation choices to support my strategy of going through the game as a non-lethal stealth character (I had killed no one up to that point, just leaving heaps of unconscious guards wherever I went).  Even worse, the boss fight starts with a cut scene that leaves your character stupidly stranded without cover in front of this tank character.  It took me probably 50 tries over the course of an hour, most of those lasting only 30 seconds or so as I tried a weapon on him to judge its effectiveness and then got ripped to shreds.  Eventually I did beat him, but I was just relieved at that point to have the stupid thing over.
--Bio Shock.  I'm playing this game now.  I like the way that this one is set up.  If you die, you are just re-spawned elsewhere, whatever you had done before you died is still in effect including the enemies that you've killed and the items you've picked up.  I still try not to die, but this lets me be a bit more bold, a bit more daring, if I know I won't lose everything in it, and I find that I'm enjoying that.

LaShawn

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #51 on: May 24, 2012, 02:37:07 PM »
DAMMIT FERRETT FIRST DEVOUR AND NOW THIS?!?!?! HOW DO YOU WRITE SO GOOD?!?! DAMN YOUUUUUUU!!!

So yeah. Loved this one too. Ferrett is turning into one of my favorite writers. Loved the protagonist in this one, and the rhythmic repetition. Wow. Wow. Wow.
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hardware

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #52 on: June 22, 2012, 01:22:40 PM »
This was really good. Here is a writer with a good grasp of what he want's to say and how the best way of saying that is. He is also concerned with actual relevant modern themes that hasn't been flogged to death already. I get that he didn't do much with the middle eastern angle, but I still found it a nice touch, that helped to anchor the story in our world. In the end, this is a story of what makes things meaningful: choises, and that they have consequences. Without those consequences, good or bad, everything loses it's meaning. I agree with several people here that Ferrett has become a name to look for.

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #53 on: June 17, 2014, 05:21:30 PM »
I put this as #29 on my Best Podcast Fiction of All Time list:
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/06/the-best-podcast-fiction-of-all-time-21-30/

Cutter McKay

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #54 on: June 17, 2014, 08:46:10 PM »
I put this as #29 on my Best Podcast Fiction of All Time list:
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/06/the-best-podcast-fiction-of-all-time-21-30/


This story remains my all-time favorite EP episode. Ever. Of all. Forever and ever, amen.  ;)
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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #55 on: June 18, 2014, 03:17:16 PM »
I put this as #29 on my Best Podcast Fiction of All Time list:
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/06/the-best-podcast-fiction-of-all-time-21-30/


This story remains my all-time favorite EP episode. Ever. Of all. Forever and ever, amen.  ;)

Ummmm...  On my list it is the 8th Escape Pod episode.  But considering the size of the pool those are coming from there's not that much difference between those numbers.

Marlboro

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Re: EP339: “Run,” Bakri Says
« Reply #56 on: November 03, 2019, 03:41:44 PM »
Episode 309: "All your base are belong to Irena"

 I enjoyed this episode. The premise is great and I thought the ending was perfect.

 My only complaint: the time travel machine was really silly. A kid growing up in a war zone in the early 2000s makes a working time machine out of old X-Boxes? You don't have to go all hardcore hard sci-fi or anything but least throw in a flux capacitor or something.  Or maybe set the story in Iraq circa 2200 A.D.