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Author Topic: EP340: Golubash (Wine-Blood-War-Story)  (Read 16679 times)

eytanz

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Reply #25 on: April 19, 2012, 07:03:04 AM

What I meant to say was two things:
1) The inconsistency of Golubash allowing one person to plant grapes in one place and nobody else to plant anything else (including grapes) anywhere else bothers me.

As ElectricPaladin points out, I'm not sure why you expect a sentient being to act in an entirely non-discriminatory sense. Maybe Golubash decided to run a small controlled experiment. Maybe it figured that that spot on itself was acceptable for modification, but others not (say, like someone choosing to have a nose piercing while refusing to have a lip piercing). Maybe it just really liked that one person and was willing to make allowances based on that emotional attachment that it was not willing to extend to all humans.

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2) With humans living on Golubash, and occasionally flying away, Golubash would lose small parts of itself in the form of food metabolized in those humans. Did this not bother Golubash?

We don't know about Golubash's biology enough to know how this would work, but I can't really see the problem here. Note that us humans are colonized by millions of micro-organisms, many of which considerably improve our standard of living. Their life cycle often involves feeding on some of our bodily products, and, as they die, we may lose some of that permanently. We also lose many millions of skin cells on a regular basis, and many other parts of our body eventually becomes incorporated into our various excretions. Do you lament the loss of a small bit of your body mass down the drain every time you shave?

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Also, penicillin is a fungus, not a moss. I'm not sure on the botanical difference, but that's what all the literature I read calls it: a fungus.

Yes, you're right - that was a typo on my behalf, I meant to say mould (which is a type of fungus), not moss.

(I feel like I should state, for people who are reading my various posts in this thread and wondering why I first attacked the story and now am defending it. I found the economic situation, the obsession with wine, and the motivations for the rebellion in this story unconvincing and simplistic. But I have no problem with the biology of the hyphens and I don't share any of Max's concerns there.)
« Last Edit: April 19, 2012, 07:08:20 AM by eytanz »



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #26 on: April 19, 2012, 11:40:44 AM
(I feel like I should state, for people who are reading my various posts in this thread and wondering why I first attacked the story and now am defending it. I found the economic situation, the obsession with wine, and the motivations for the rebellion in this story unconvincing and simplistic. But I have no problem with the biology of the hyphens and I don't share any of Max's concerns there.)
Which makes us quite the pair, because I found the economic situation, the obsession with wine and the motivations for rebellion rather convincing and realistic in an alternate-reality or possible-future sort of way.

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InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #27 on: April 20, 2012, 04:46:26 AM
I'm in the clear minority here. I agree with the intro comments about the lack of food in stories (both science fictional and fantastic), this, IMHO, was not one of them. It was oenophilic porn. Oenophilic SF porn. Oenophilies tend to make my eyes roll.

But I did like the living planet. Would have liked to have heard more about that. I own Federations, maybe I'll give it another try at some point.



Mex5150

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Reply #28 on: April 23, 2012, 06:41:18 PM
This was the fist Escape Pod story that I actively disliked. <rant> A third of the words were used to describe wine, and another third was taken up by long, difficult to pronounce names that didn't contribute anything to the story. The remaining bit was Sci-Fi, sure, but it could have been so much better. A sentient alien world that uses ecological processes to live takes over Earth? Now that's something I want to hear more about, not wine.</rant>
I couldn't agree more.

When the last wine was announced I breathed a sigh of relief and said 'thank god' to myself LOL

The actual story without all the bumph, although interesting, did needed something more to fill it out, however a wine tasting was without doubt not that something.

-Mex



Pirvonen

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Reply #29 on: April 24, 2012, 03:40:47 PM
This story was ... oh, me. Mag-ni-fi-que!

EscapePod stories have been more or less consistently enjoyable, no problem there.

This one? This is the first one that I have not deleted after a few days. This one I have saved in multiple locations. This one I have listened through over and over again.

Glorious.

So what if it was not bang-bang-rattatatatata-splat-aargh action every minute, with a gag thrown in every 103 seconds? All the better for it!

This was literature. Not just storytelling, but painting a sumptuous expressionistic canvas with rich tones. Great work, entity Valente. Great work, entity Croft. Thanks to EA staff for bringing this out for my delectation.



yicheng

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Reply #30 on: April 24, 2012, 05:51:58 PM
I admit that I was a bit lost in the details of plot, with all the weird sounding names and hyphenated pronouns.  However, the luscious imagery carried the story for me.  I'm more of a beer & steak kind of a guy, but I readily identified with the language used and at times could almost taste the wines as they were being described.

My views on the various incongruities are similar to ElectricPaladin's.  I think the point about the narrator being a very biased POV was very important, and possibly missed.  A historical parallel might be the Opium Wars that the British fought with the Chinese in the 1800's.  To the Chinese, this was a watermark point in history, both an extremely humiliating insult on their national pride and what would ingrain a very strong sense of anti-western/anti-colonialism that would affect modern Chinese foreign policy over 200 years later.  To the British, however, this was not much more than one of many "police actions" (to borrow an modern phrase) to keep the colonies in check, and may not have warranted much more than few newspaper headlines.  So in that sense, when Earth was said to "declare war" over a wine, it might have only been the equivalent of a minor conflict to the citizens of Earth.  From the story, the "war" with Earth certainly seemed to be one-sided enough.

Furthermore, I think some of the incredulity about starting a war over wine comes from our unique modern perspective, where we can surely stop by the corner mart and buy a couple bottles should wish.  Let's not forget that at one point in time, quite a few wars (or let's say conflicts) were fought over Spices, many of which are also cheap and easily available now.  At a point where a few rare spices (like nutmeg, mace, cloves) were only found on a small chain of Indonesian Islands, it was said that a single sailor could bring back one sack of spices on such a trip and be able to live in relative affluence for the rest of his life.  Now, imagine such economic forces on an inter-stellar scale.

Personally, I imagine the technology level of this story (where inter-stellar travel seems to be relatively easy) as basically Star-Trek-like.  They could very well have the ability to synthesize or easily transport basic food-like products very cheaply.  Imagine a McDonald's like "food printer" that had a basic nutritional "food-goo" feed along with an array of flavor and color toner cartridges, which would allow you to easily fabricate anything along the lines of a quarter-pounder, or a california roll, or even a ham & turkey gyro.  We basically have the tech to do that right now.  All the Golubash colonists would have to do was to obtain a steady energy supply, a source of water for hydroponics, and an occassional earth-delivery of stuff that wasn't easily fabricated.  In an environment like that, I think the commodities for interstellar trade would be anything that was relatively hard to fabricate and easy to transport, e.g. wines, coffee, tobacco, rare metals, cultural items.  I could easily see the Wine trade being the subject of dispute between various cartels, governing bodies, and small sentient planets.



MontanaMax

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Reply #31 on: April 24, 2012, 06:33:20 PM
I had a difficult time getting into the story at first, but the imagery kept me from hitting delete long enough for the plot to gain some momentum.  Once the concept of the world body/mind caught me, I was eagerly anticipating the infection of the home world with the alien being - and the ride to get there was not disappointing at all.



CryptoMe

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Reply #32 on: April 24, 2012, 08:33:04 PM
I enjoyed the undertones of this story, but would have rather spat out the wine tasting portions.... :P



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Reply #33 on: April 25, 2012, 09:54:33 PM
I'm usually a lurker, but this story made me mad on so many levels that I just had to post.
First, the systematical murder of the spanish language every time the "Asociación de la Pureza del Vino" was mentioned (which was quite a few) and the -shall I say doubtful?- pronounciation of the french names pushed me off the story every time. Secondly, the depiction of the "Asociación" as some sort of cliché Spanish Conquistador reminded me too much of Zorro and Capitán Monasterio. I was expecting Antonio Banderas at every turn of the story.
Thirdly, the hints on Barnard's local inhabitants was SO full of possibility.... it was a shame to waste it all and never quite explore all those other paths open to the author.
Lastly, a pet peeve: I do like wine, but can't stand yuppie "connoiseurs", who claim to recognize a gazillion scent markers on a given wine. Anything beyond three is snobbish exaggeration (and I'm quoting a wine expert here!)

Now to lurk mode again  ;)

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ancawonka

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Reply #34 on: April 30, 2012, 02:16:14 AM
I liked this one. It felt like the story was smuggled to me on some dilapidated space freighter.  The languid reading, with the slightly metallic twang and the careful stumbling pronounciation makes me want to start it over again just to savor.

While this lacks the precision of asimovian hard sci-fi, it's more than made up for in the romance of rebel wine artisans and post-capitalist mega-corps.



Jeff C. Carter

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Reply #35 on: May 04, 2012, 06:21:06 AM
I enjoyed this story!  Any mispronunciations or ecological/economic inaccuracies notwithstanding, the original framing device of the wine tasting, the weird technology and the weirder alien world were all great.

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Cattfish

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Reply #36 on: May 06, 2012, 06:46:49 PM
I liked this one, it was pretty unusual...

but I admit I was a bit grossed out by the living organism shedding bits of itself concept. 



eytanz

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Reply #37 on: May 06, 2012, 06:50:47 PM
I liked this one, it was pretty unusual...

but I admit I was a bit grossed out by the living organism shedding bits of itself concept. 

I did discuss this above, but I really can't see what the difference between this organism and every other multi-cellular organism in this respect.



Cattfish

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Reply #38 on: May 06, 2012, 06:54:37 PM
I liked this one, it was pretty unusual...

but I admit I was a bit grossed out by the living organism shedding bits of itself concept. 

I did discuss this above, but I really can't see what the difference between this organism and every other multi-cellular organism in this respect.

Well it depends if you're the drinker or the drinkee, doesn't it?



patriciomas

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Reply #39 on: May 11, 2012, 06:00:36 AM
Hmh, this one didn't hold my interest. It's one of three or so EA casts I haven't been able to finish, but I didn't dislike it. Golubash itself was definitely interesting, though. Perhaps it was the Evil Wine Cartel of Doom that put me off, or maybe the story was told too indirectly. Still, I'd love to see more food in spec fic. Mmm, unicorn steaks...



Cattfish

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Reply #40 on: May 12, 2012, 07:31:23 AM
Still, I'd love to see more food in spec fic. Mmm, unicorn steaks...

Indeed, because if you think about it there's more than one way to do a first contact story...  "We are very happy to eat, I mean, meet you."  And it would be a nice turn of the norm if the humans were the ones to do the eating and greeting.   ;D



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Reply #41 on: May 21, 2012, 05:48:15 PM
There are few things that I find more thoroughly boring than listening to a wine-tasting.  (Watching golf on TV is one of them)  I enjoy the occasional glass of wine, though my tastes go more toward the dessert wine that an enthusiast might sneer at.  Moscato is my particular favorite.  But I have never had any interest in listening to people talk about the undertones and the woody aroma and whatever else people talk about when they talk about wine.  I'm just not interested.

So predictably, this story was a very hard sell.  I was interested in the Hyphens being extensions of the planetary being, enough so that I listened 18 minutes in after I'd been tempted to shut it off already.  But then it kept on going on with the wines and on, and on, and on.  After 18 minutes I tapped out because I just didn't have the patience anymore, and then realized that the episode wasn't even halfway over at that point.  Yikes, I'm glad I didn't stick through to the end.

I would love to read a story about Golubash without all the wine-tasting.  That part sounded interesting, but not worth wading through the rest.



Listener

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Reply #42 on: May 21, 2012, 06:01:33 PM
There are few things that I find more thoroughly boring than listening to a wine-tasting.  (Watching golf on TV is one of them) 

Watching golf on TV is only fun if you're watching it with other golf enthusiasts. We used to get wild at my old job during tournaments, watching them on the big TVs in the newsroom.

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LaShawn

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Reply #43 on: May 24, 2012, 03:41:31 PM
A science fiction story framed around wine. Delicious! I loved the history in this. There was so much information in this I had to read along, but I've always enjoyed Valente's style, so reading it, along with listening to it was a treat. Understanding it, on the other hand, required reading through the forum. But that's okay. I love you all. You increase my intelligence a little more each day.

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SF.Fangirl

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Reply #44 on: May 29, 2012, 01:23:08 AM
My thoughts exactly.  I actually started  this story, got bored/lost, stopped, and had to force myself to come back to listen for the sake of completeness.  I liked it better than expected from the start, but I think this was a poor choice for audio.  In addition to French words and numerous names, the dates were a problem (honestly I still don't know if the historical story (ie the main plot) was told in order or not).  IMO stories which reference dates like this are often a poor choice for audio because I can't flipped back a page or two to see the previous date when the next is mentioned.

This story in audio form evoked a "meh."  I suspect I could have gotten more out of reading it where I could have skimmed all the wine details which didn't do anything for me.

Tldr: story would probably work better in unicode than compressed audio.



Longshoreman

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Reply #45 on: June 08, 2012, 09:51:02 PM
Wow, I'm not a great lover of a book made up of a lot of description, I prefer and slick plot and clever characters. Simply wow though, the description was fabulous.
I found the intricate political back story very interesting that could easily be related to many situations but I will desperately try to avoid politics. I will say that this did make me think that it had a strong reference to a major power thinking with its oil filled balls constricting small companies into conformity.
I loved this story, the descriptions of the wines was fantastic and the french behind them really gave the story a sense of passion. The mixtures of grapes and the history behind them another interesting selection of facts that really gave the story flavour.
At points this story did get a little too much, especially with the french, not being as fluent as I would like to be, a little too much. If there was a little less it would have been perfect.
I must confess, listening this story late a night, I didn't quite grasp the "god" concept in the form of Golubash, but that perhaps that was more down to me being a little slow when I tried to understand the message of the story. I did really enjoy this one, and the descriptions of the wine, I felt, were good.



hardware

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Reply #46 on: July 09, 2012, 07:42:08 PM
I'm a wine drinker without being a wine snob, but I really liked this story, and I must say that without the wine-tasting framing and segwaying of this story, it would have been pretty ordinary and forgettable, but the way it resonated the character of the different wines with the telling of the history of this colony and the world-organism was pretty powerful. It was the kind of space opera I like, mildly surrealistic and very unsubtle. As for the mispronounciations, I'm sure that's how they will sound in the future, when only wine snobs remembers enough fragments of the french language to mark their territory.



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Reply #47 on: July 10, 2012, 01:58:57 PM
As for the mispronounciations, I'm sure that's how they will sound in the future, when only wine snobs remembers enough fragments of the french language to mark their territory.

What will have happened to the French in this future?



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Reply #48 on: July 11, 2012, 05:05:53 AM
As for the mispronounciations, I'm sure that's how they will sound in the future, when only wine snobs remembers enough fragments of the french language to mark their territory.

What will have happened to the French in this future?

Tragic hypersauce mishap.

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Umbrageofsnow

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Reply #49 on: August 22, 2012, 11:31:41 AM
Tragic hypersauce mishap.

Sounds like a description of my cooking. Or a great band name.

Anyway, just got around to listening to this one, I liked it, but I feel the same way a lot of people did about Resnick's "Homecoming". Valente is absolutely brilliant, one of my favorite authors, but this felt like a more generic Catherynne M. Valente story. No one else would have written it this way, but the best things are things that would be impressive had I not already read Catherynne M. Valente doing those things much better.

"A Buyer's Guide to Maps of Antarctica" is my all-time favorite story of hers, with "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time" not far behind. Here we have pretty much the same structure, without as interesting of a story. Most of her others just kill me, this one leaves me a bit cold. Which is not to say that the writing wasn't great, with an interesting structure, good characters, and wonderful descriptions.  Just that the Valente-bar is set higher than this, at least for me. I'm glad I listened to it, but it will be like twentieth place in stories of hers I force on other people.