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Author Topic: PC211: The Axiom Of Choice  (Read 3471 times)
Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2012, 10:15:36 AM »

His life went down the toilet due to events caused by the plane crash, but it all would've been much clearer if they had been more directly caused by some dumb choice he made, rather than just a random occurrence that happened to happen.
The point (I think) was that he chose being lazy over being smart. Sleep in rather than drive.
I mean, there's nothing wrong with being a musician, especially if that's what you love to do.  This was just driven home all the further when he went back and chose the other path which involved staying in school and everything turned out splendidly.  Mmmm... okay, I don't think that's where the problem lay.  That kind of had a ring to it of Mr. Mackey "Drugs are bad, mmmkay. Dropping out of school is bad, mmmkay."
Again, be lazy or be smart?

EDIT:
I am not inferring that lazy people are not smart or that smart people are not lazy. I'm saying, make the choice: be lazy or do the smart thing and work a little bit harder.

Usually I read CYOA books like Dave did, I felt like I had to start at the beginning again.  I chose the right path as an engineer, because I've always been a bit algorithmically minded, when I do something over and over like reading those books I tend to choose a method and stick with it.  I do that with many things, for no particularly good reason.  There was one book which really stymied me to the point that I had to try a different tactic.  It was one on a particularly hostile alien world, and almost every choice would end in death if choosing the wrong path.  I tried that one so many times, and then I changed to the tactic of just stepping back a choice or two after a death, and that didn't work either because there was only ONE happy ending and it required a very specific path, which included some choices that seemed to have bad results at the time but ultimately proved beneficial.  The only way I ended up reaching the ending was to find the happy ending in the book, and then flip through until I found the page that sent you to that page number, and so on until I reached the beginning, and then step through in that same order in reverse.  
That was a really fun book.  Smiley  I tried to get my dad to read it, but he got very frustrated very quickly.
Was that the one on Mars and Venus? Where you go forwards in time by hibernating in a space ship and wake up in the future where the inner solar system has been colonized and is under totalitarian rule? Because that was my favorite. There was one happy ending and one almost happy ending to that one. Also, I literally read it to pieces Smiley
« Last Edit: June 13, 2012, 10:17:44 AM by Max e^{i pi} » Logged

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jenfullmoon
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« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2012, 10:57:40 AM »

This is interesting (albeit depressing until the end), but I did find CYOA-style to be hard to follow in a read-aloud story, and kept mixing up the numbers in my head because I couldn't see them on the page. I had to go find the PDF on the New Haven website to reread it and get it straight.

But I have that issue here periodically, especially if a story has some kind of gimmick that's easier to track while seeing it.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2012, 12:27:21 PM »

The point (I think) was that he chose being lazy over being smart. Sleep in rather than drive.

I still don't get the point I guess.  Hard work isn't always the best choice.  Sometimes hard work will get you nothing but exhausted, and more work.



Was that the one on Mars and Venus? Where you go forwards in time by hibernating in a space ship and wake up in the future where the inner solar system has been colonized and is under totalitarian rule? Because that was my favorite. There was one happy ending and one almost happy ending to that one. Also, I literally read it to pieces Smiley

I don't think it was.  It all took place on one hostile planet on which you'd crashlanded.  The really tricky part was that reaching the final solution required you to make an apparently bad but easily avoidable choice very early on.  You had to try to pick up something that looked like an object, but which turned out to be a hostile venomous parasite, and then find a way to remove the parasite before it killed you (rather than going back and avoiding it altogether).  Enough of the venom stayed around in your system so that in the final confrontation, when the pretty-much-invincible final monster bites you, it dies of the venom in your blood before it can finish killing you, and you win.  I don't remember any names, makes it hard to look up.

I also remember that you need to eat to avoid starving, but that one kind of meat is poisonous if you DON'T cook and another is poisonous if you DO, both of which refer you to some encyclopedic reference which is not part of this book so the only way to learn is by trial and error. 
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Ocicat
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« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2012, 02:07:48 AM »

An earlier poster pointed out that this story wasn't fantasy.  I'd like to say a few things about that:

1) Discussions about genre lines are somewhat frowned on in the forum, the thinking being that they're almost never productive conversations.

2) They're right.  This story isn't a fantasy, or any kind of speculative fiction.

3) I applaud Podcastle for running it anyway.  Not only was it a wonderful story with a geeky gimmick well suited to fantasy readers, but having it presented on Podcastle always gives the listener the idea that something magical might happen.  But then again, it might not.  I love that Podcastle sometimes runs stories with no fantasy element, or ones that only have a fantasy element if looked at from a certain perspective.  Please keep bringing us more great not-quite-fantasies, and ambiguous fantasies!
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aesculapius
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« Reply #24 on: June 15, 2012, 03:57:50 PM »

Excellent story, and unusual in a good way. A thinking man's PodCastle episode.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #25 on: June 17, 2012, 01:29:01 AM »

The point (I think) was that he chose being lazy over being smart. Sleep in rather than drive.

I still don't get the point I guess.  Hard work isn't always the best choice.  Sometimes hard work will get you nothing but exhausted, and more work.

Yes, but the way the choice was presented: do you want to sleep on some random floor in an apartment or do you want to sleep as late as you want tomorrow? It's obvious what you are supposed to pick.
Furthermore, this same choice was presented over and over again to the reader, until you finally get it right. The point at which you finally get it right is in the park when you choose to let your fist punch someone for no reason, and you go to section 801 (Aside: notice how each new stage in your life starts at section X01?). That is the point where you finally start to come to grips with your choices in life.
In fact, the literary tools used here are incredible. In the first three choices it is made clear to you that you have no choice. And then for the rest of the story you try and avoid the consequences of that.
That's really what this story is about (IMO): accepting the consequences for you choices. You continue a downward spiral, hitting rock bottom (or whatever the bench is made out of) for the whole story while avoiding looking at, using, thinking about your hand and what brought you there. This is driven home by that choice in the hospital: if you realize that she hasn't said anything about Paul or that other guy, and you guess what she means by omission, and you remember that flying was your choice...
You just can't accept the consequences of your choices.
At group you finally realize that you aren't the one making the choices (which you should have figured out in the first three choices) but simply a character in some else's book. Then you just sit back and watch things happen.
But that isn't enough. You have to realize, actually grok, that even though you have no choices that you can make, you still have to face their consequences. And that is when you punch someone for no reason, and begin your upwards climb.
And of course that's when the rehabilitation begins, until the penultimate scene, where the message is really driven home. When you hear the message from (probably) Paul's widow: You make choices in your life, and whether you have free will to make them or not, it doesn't matter. What matters is that you face the consequences of these decisions.

Gosh, I really want to discuss this in a college literature class.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #26 on: June 18, 2012, 09:15:17 AM »

Yes, but the way the choice was presented: do you want to sleep on some random floor in an apartment or do you want to sleep as late as you want tomorrow? It's obvious what you are supposed to pick.

Yes, it's obvious which one you are supposed to pick, which if I were reading the book I would probably continue picking the "wrong" choice just to be contrary.  In real life there is often a choice that seems like it's the obvious choice you're "supposed to" pick, and often that has some basis in reality.  But I think the choice here could've been one that more obviously had clearly fatal consequences like "Do you call a cab or do you drive home even though you can't focus on the hand in front of your face?"  Rather than "Do you sleep in even though you oughtn't?" 
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2012, 11:15:13 AM »

Yes, but the way the choice was presented: do you want to sleep on some random floor in an apartment or do you want to sleep as late as you want tomorrow? It's obvious what you are supposed to pick.

Yes, it's obvious which one you are supposed to pick, which if I were reading the book I would probably continue picking the "wrong" choice just to be contrary.  In real life there is often a choice that seems like it's the obvious choice you're "supposed to" pick, and often that has some basis in reality. 
The whole point of the story is that it isn't real life. You have no real choices because you are a character in a story. If you pick otherwise then "this wouldn't be your story" or "you do not make this choice".
It's meta!
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« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2012, 11:20:40 AM »

Yes, but the way the choice was presented: do you want to sleep on some random floor in an apartment or do you want to sleep as late as you want tomorrow? It's obvious what you are supposed to pick.

Yes, it's obvious which one you are supposed to pick, which if I were reading the book I would probably continue picking the "wrong" choice just to be contrary.  In real life there is often a choice that seems like it's the obvious choice you're "supposed to" pick, and often that has some basis in reality. 
The whole point of the story is that it isn't real life. You have no real choices because you are a character in a story. If you pick otherwise then "this wouldn't be your story" or "you do not make this choice".
It's meta!

Okay.  But the more I am convinced of that, the less I like the story, as I said before:

Quote
This was an interesting gimmick for a story, and I think the author did as well with it as could be done with this particular gimmick.  Unfortunately, I just had trouble getting into it.  It was a Choose Your Own Adventure story, minus the Choose Your Own Adventure part.  It kept the stilted 2nd-person style necessary for a Choose Your Own Adventure, but took away my ability to affect the path.  And then it went on and on and on.  If it were half the length I think I could've enjoyed the idea in a nice compact exploration, but it just kept going and going.
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« Reply #29 on: June 22, 2012, 08:09:29 AM »

So...the moral of the story is, if your jerkass Philosophy professor punches you for no reason, don't get upset with him?

 Huh

Man I hated philosophy class...
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #30 on: June 22, 2012, 09:44:25 AM »

So...the moral of the story is, if your jerkass Philosophy professor punches you for no reason, don't get upset with him?
If you're going to look at it like that, then the moral of the story is: do what it takes to impress the girl.

Where "girl" can be whatever type of person you are interested in.
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Listener
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« Reply #31 on: June 28, 2012, 08:51:42 PM »

This was an interesting story that I admit is kind of hard to pull off in audio. I imagine it would be possible to put in cue points if all MP3 players used the same software... but they don't. Ah well.

I wasn't really a huge fan of the story. It went on for WAY too long, was way too maudlin, and by the time I finished listening to it I'd almost forgotten the story about the "sometimes they don't come back" note at the beginning. I think it's the kind of surrealistic piece that CAN be run on PC (much like "Zombie Contingency Plan"), but it unfortunately wasn't my thing.

I really would like to see someone write a contemporary CYOA book. Erotica author Shon Richards did one, and he said that it was a bitch and a half to plot out all the different choices, but I imagine someone could write a SF, F, or H one aimed at a slightly older audience than the ones I used to read as a kid. I read the absolute HELL out of my one Star Trek one that I had, where you (the reader) play a cadet just starting out on the Enterprise. Lots of ways to die, for a book targeted at kids.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #32 on: June 29, 2012, 08:14:54 AM »

Lots of ways to die, for a book targeted at kids.
They were all like that.
And yes, I think I read all the ones that had been published by the time I was 12. My library had a good selection Smiley
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eytanz
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« Reply #33 on: July 03, 2012, 12:35:53 PM »

I thought this was an excellent story. It maintained my interest throughout and was rather thought provoking. I can sympathize with some of the criticism raised by unblinking, but for me the point was more the meditation about the nature of choices than the actual biographical choices in the story. One thing this story did was deconstruct the notion of a "right choice" versus a "wrong choice". In a sense, all the choices that the character made before the group therapy session were the wrong choices, in that they had bad consequences. Then, in the alternate history he imagined, every choice he made was the right choice, at least if the goal was to continue with his relationship. Then, he gives up, and refuses to make any choice for himself - but of course, that is in itself a choice. I interpreted the ending as a rejection of all the models previously presented in the story - the fact that you can't always tell if the choice you make is right or wrong, and the fact that making a choice doesn't give you full control of the consequences - coupled with the fact that freedom to make choices isn't the same as being able to choose whatever we want - all combined mean that the way to proceed is to take one choice at a time and try to do the best you can.

It's not a perfect story - I thought the philosophy class was a bit too explicit in raising the themes of the story - but it was an excellent story indeed, and one I was very glad to hear.
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bluetube
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« Reply #34 on: July 04, 2012, 04:11:08 PM »

It took a minute or three for me to get the hang of this one. It crept up on me and I was drawn in.

At each of the choices I made my own decision (I'm guessing everyone did this) and was in line with the story more often than not.

It's weird, but I felt more a part of it than I would for a normal story. Perhaps because of that decision making.

I really felt for the main character; his injuries, his moods, his hopelessness, his improving situation. I liked the open-ended finish.

In some ways my own life could do with some radical changes, so this really struck a chord.

The reading was great, too.   Smiley
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LaShawn
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« Reply #35 on: July 09, 2012, 02:34:37 PM »

This was a wonderful, wonderful story. Max did a better job than I in explaining the reasons I loved the story, so I'll defer to his post. But this would be a great story to discuss in my Bible study. :-D
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childoftyranny
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« Reply #36 on: July 13, 2012, 05:29:04 AM »

Unfortunately I didn't much care for this one, its wasn't the choices I don't think those really helped nor hurt the story for me. Like many, I began trying to guess which was going to be the choice, then proceeded to which would be more interesting to hear about and finally to whichever. It was at that last point where I realized I just didn't care about this guy. He wasn't particularly interesting, some bad things happened, he got depressed. People tried to help him but he didn't get over it until he GOT it. Just not that interesting to me.

I admit I'm also not floored with this presentation of choices, I guess I miss out on the "deepness"/cleverness of it. On a sidenote I had a fascinating debate in a chatroom about deepness and how one would have to judge it by gravitational fields if comparing how deep you are between planets and galaxies etc. Anyway back to choices, he/you/they had to make choices and kept making them even if not making them, well that is how life goes. Another digression, I'm fairly certain that a  more traditonal answer to her question is that the {} empty set answers the question without dealing with choice at all. It probably also doesn't hurt how much I've been pondering through the intrinsic value of choice since I've been hearing so much about individual liberty and choice and such these days. When I picture a situation where you are standing in front of three white boxes that look exactly the same, that you know nothing about, is there intrinsic value in being to make a choice without knowledge to understand the choice. I have my doubts.
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acpracht
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« Reply #37 on: July 18, 2012, 03:53:10 PM »

Yea for at least promoing my post, even if there wasn't a way to read it! Smiley
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Umbrageofsnow
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« Reply #38 on: August 16, 2012, 01:33:02 PM »

I found the gimmick went down very smoothly with this one. For two reasons:

1. It had some intrinsic humor. "If you've realized you're not the one making these choices..."

2. The gimmick is what the story is about. A choose-your-own-adventure about being a spy or having a space adventure wouldn't capture me in audio format, as an adult, the way it might have on paper as a kid. But a choose-your-own-adventure about free will is absolutely brilliant. It has a certain conceptual humor to it. The point is, the concept had me amused, and the serious themes made it a story I could take seriously and really appreciate, whereas trying to be primarily humorous would have felt facile and boring. The tint of humor lightens a serious discussion that I like reading about.  I guess if you have no patience for discussion of free will, then maybe it won't. But the point of the story isn't that he made the wrong choices all the time, it is that they often didn't matter. Whatever, I liked it a lot. Like tied with "Urchins While Swimming" for best Podcastle so far in 2012 a lot.
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JDHarper
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« Reply #39 on: August 26, 2012, 06:05:53 PM »

My favorite Podcastle episode in a long time. The last line was absolutely fantastic.
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