Author Topic: EP351: 113 Feet  (Read 16042 times)

eytanz

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on: June 29, 2012, 03:25:21 AM
EP351: 113 Feet

By Josh Roseman

Read by Mur Lafferty

An Escape Pod Original!

---

This is a really bad idea, Elle,” Barry says.

“You didn’t have to come.”

“Don’t be stupid,” he snaps. “Phil would kill me if I didn’t come with you.”

Barry is fiftyish, portly and gray-haired. Seeing him take off his shirt is an experience I wish I’d never had.

“I have friends with certifications,” I say. “It’s not like I couldn’t have asked one of them.”

“How many of them have actually been down there?” It’s almost a growl, and I’m actually cowed a little. “That’s what I thought.”

I sit on the hard bench, wood planks covered in thin, all-weather carpet, and fiddle with my regulator.

“How far away do you think we are?” he asks.

“Don’t know. Ask the captain.”

Barry looks up at the bridge, where Al — the captain — stands, driving the boat. Al is even older than Barry, narrow and hard and tanned almost leathery with decades of exposure to the sun. Instead of going up to talk to him, though, Barry goes around the cabin to stand by the bow, leaving me bouncing up and down on the bench as the boat zips across the water. The light chop makes the horizon rise and fall faster than is comfortable. I can take it, though, and if I get sick enough to throw up, at least I know enough to do it over the side.

My guess is that we’re ten minutes from the dive site. Maybe fifteen.

After waiting seven years to get my answers, fifteen minutes isn’t much of a wait at all.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!



jenfullmoon

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Reply #1 on: June 29, 2012, 04:54:10 PM
Hooooly shit. A compelling story. What a whammy at the end.

I guess I'm awful in that I'd want to stay in the portal and see what happened too?

Really, the sad thing is that Ellie wasn't allowed to stay with him.

And I want to know what that letter said!



ToooooMuchCoffeeMan

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Reply #2 on: June 30, 2012, 08:27:40 AM
The story was well-written enough, but really, was it science fiction?

It's a touching story of parental abandonment but it could have been written just as compellingly without the Maguffin of a time-traveling underwater portal. The father could have abandoned his daughter just as effectively and wrenchingly if he were an anthropologist or botanist who was unwilling to give up his researches in some far-flung inaccessible corner of the globe. FTM he need not even have been a scientist, just some guy with a job requiring extensive international travel who enjoyed it more than his family.



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Reply #3 on: June 30, 2012, 07:11:50 PM
I like the story, but I am disappointed in the ending or maybe disappointed for Elle since her Dad was kind of a dick.  Although given the location of the portals, he wouldn't be able to pop back anytime since he'd need a boat waiting to pick him up.  There was an abrupt switch where it when from a sci fi story about a girl's quest to her dealing with the loss/abandonment of her dad.

BTW who says "I'll never dive again" in that last scene?  Mark or Elle?  I thought it was Mark, but there's more character development impact if it was Elle and she's giving up her passion.  In fact I am not sure as to the purpose of Mark in the story; I expected him to do more but they went their separate ways after her dad disappeared and he wasn't lost because of her obsession.



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Reply #4 on: July 02, 2012, 01:59:26 PM
I enjoyed this one quite a lot.  I don't know a lot about diving, so some of those details alone were interesting enough to string me along, and the hints of the transdimensional portals that happened very early on helped a lot too.

The story didn't end where I expected, which is a definite plus.  I thought that she'd be reunited with daddy and have a heartfelt and happy reunion.  Or, barring that, she would fail to find him.  I didn't expect her to find him, only to find out that he's not interested in a reunion and has more important things to deal with, even though she's pretty much devoted her life to finding him again.  That really hit me, probably partly because I didn't expect it at all, and I really felt for her.  I cheered when she destroyed the letter unopened--nothing he can say at that point is worth her time and attention.   He made his choice.  I hope that she can learn to forgive him, though, for her own sake, so she doesn't carry the anger at him inside her.

It's a touching story of parental abandonment but it could have been written just as compellingly without the Maguffin of a time-traveling underwater portal. The father could have abandoned his daughter just as effectively and wrenchingly if he were an anthropologist or botanist who was unwilling to give up his researches in some far-flung inaccessible corner of the globe. FTM he need not even have been a scientist, just some guy with a job requiring extensive international travel who enjoyed it more than his family.

I disagree.  Without the diving this would've been an entirely different story.  (Not a bad story, but an entirely different story).  I liked the mystery of the manner of the father's disappearance so that to everyone else her quest to find her father looked like madness, but because of the snippets she'd seen in his notes she had some reason to go on (though his notes could also have been madness).   Also, she defined herself in great part because of her diving occupation, and she wouldn't have devoted herself to becoming so great at that if not for her father's disappearance.  His manner of disappearance defined a huge chunk of her life, and even though she's written him off that doesn't change how much of an effect it had on her.

Although given the location of the portals, he wouldn't be able to pop back anytime since he'd need a boat waiting to pick him up. 

True.  He couldn't return easily, but I believe that he could find a way if he were determined enough, since he knows the parameters of the problem.

In fact I am not sure as to the purpose of Mark in the story; I expected him to do more but they went their separate ways after her dad disappeared and he wasn't lost because of her obsession.

Well, it sounded like normal diving protocol says that she should have a diving partner, so she needed to have someone until that final scene at least.  And I think he served a purpose in the story playing the straight man as a counterpoint to her obsessive compulsion.  He also upped the tension in the final scenes because she had to return to the surface to get him more air, and then had to go back down by herself, which all would've been less tense if she hadn't had to do that.  Maybe he served other narrative purposes too, but that was good enough for me.



sykoticwit

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Reply #5 on: July 02, 2012, 05:41:53 PM
I agree that you could have told this story without the diving or the time travel, but it would have lost most of the tension and suspense. The mysterious disappearance of her father added suspense to the story as she gave up her entire life in the search for her father. I figured he had been transported to somewhere else by a portal, but I kept listening because I wanted to know what and where. Without the SF hook I would have probably gotten bored and turned the story off.

Anyway, bravo, excellent story. Bring me more like it  :)

EDIT

In fact I am not sure as to the purpose of Mark in the story; I expected him to do more but they went their separate ways after her dad disappeared and he wasn't lost because of her obsession.

Aside from a generic diving partner (you never do high risk stuff like diving or climbing alone, safety in numbers and whatnot…) Mark was an example of what she gave up in her search for her father. After her father's disappearance she went from being an engaging and fun person to a driven person with one goal, finding her father, and she gave up her entire life for seven years in pursuit of that goal. Mark was a variation of her choosing her obsession over friends and family, and when she returned to him at the end, it was her finally admitting that her father was dead (metaphorically speaking, since he wasn't, you know, actually dead).
« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 05:50:57 PM by sykoticwit »

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Reply #6 on: July 03, 2012, 01:48:31 PM
Long time listener, first time commenter.

Loved this story even though I was sorely disappointed there was no Cthulu.

How can you have a sunken wreck without some tentacle gods. ;-)



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Reply #7 on: July 03, 2012, 01:50:17 PM
I agree that you could have told this story without the diving or the time travel, but it would have lost most of the tension and suspense. The mysterious disappearance of her father added suspense to the story as she gave up her entire life in the search for her father.

And you could probably say the same about all good science fiction.  The technology, IMO, shouldn't be the point.



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Reply #8 on: July 03, 2012, 02:26:21 PM
I feel like I've been Listening to Josh Roseman for a while, but it's nice to see the transition from reader to author. I liked the story. I didn't quite get why the storms happened in relation to the portal access. However, it didn't negatively impact my enjoyment, as it wasn't the point of the story.

Long time listener, first time commenter.

Loved this story even though I was sorely disappointed there was no Cthulu.

How can you have a sunken wreck without some tentacle gods. ;-)

There's the other diving story here with a ribbon shark. That one was pretty awesome, too.

The inclusion of elder gods and their priests would have created a different set of complaints.

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


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Reply #9 on: July 04, 2012, 12:06:13 AM
The characterization really made this for me. I like the way that her immunity to the claustrophobia of diving comes across as being so natural, and I love the way that she is strong minded enough to keep looking, and then strong minded enough to give up on her dad as being a complete dick.

She's as tough as old boots, but in a sympathetic and believable way.




Unblinking

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Reply #10 on: July 05, 2012, 01:36:53 PM
I agree that you could have told this story without the diving or the time travel, but it would have lost most of the tension and suspense. The mysterious disappearance of her father added suspense to the story as she gave up her entire life in the search for her father.

And you could probably say the same about all good science fiction.  The technology, IMO, shouldn't be the point.

I don't think I agree with that.  While I agree that the technology shouldn't be the only point in a story, IMO if you can remove the SF element without changing the story then you should.  In this case I didn't think you could.



Cutter McKay

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Reply #11 on: July 05, 2012, 04:53:00 PM
Overall I enjoyed this one. Strong character, good pacing. I liked how the narration jumped between the current story and flashbacks for the progressing setup, and especially how it was written in present tense for the current stuff and past tense for the flashbacks. (Although, that's one of my beefs, too, which I will get to.) I found the diving information to be interesting and informative without feeling info-dumpish.

Elle was a strong and willful character and I enjoyed seeing her stick it to anyone who tried to tell her she was wrong and foolish for pursuing her goal. And, although I think it was fully in-character for her to throw away the letter without reading it, the sentimentalist in me nearly cried out when she tossed it. I mean, obviously her father went to great lengths to get that message to her, I think the least she could do was give him a chance. Yes, he was a douche for leaving, and for not letting her stay with him, (which I didn't like, mostly because there's no REAL explanation as to WHY she can't stay. He got to stay, I think she should, too. But, I also like the ending of the story as is, so I won't push that too far.) But there was such little time for them to talk that maybe the letter explained things that he couldn't in the short time they had. Maybe he detailed a way for her to join him, maybe he had some plan to return to them later. Maybe he just wanted to say "I'm sorry" one more time. We'll/She'll never know.

The only other problem I had with this story is a structural one. For the entire tale, everything that happens on the boat with Barry and Al is written in present tense. The search for her father is happening right now, and the flashbacks to her childhood are all written in past tense, because they already happened. I really liked this, it fit well with this story. So, what I can't figure out is why, when she goes through the portal and finds her dad, it reverts to past tense. I mean, this is still a part of the current story, the stuff that is happening now. It's not a flashback, why is she thinking back on it? And then it reverts to present tense again when she goes to see Mark. I find this to be a major structural flaw that, for whatever reason, really bugs me. I get that once she goes through the portal there are no more flash backs and the rest of the story would all be present tense, which would ruin the back and forth flow of the story, but who cares? I think it would have been fine, and more true to the structure, to tell the remainder in present tense. My two cents.

One last thing:
In fact I am not sure as to the purpose of Mark in the story; I expected him to do more but they went their separate ways after her dad disappeared and he wasn't lost because of her obsession.

Well, it sounded like normal diving protocol says that she should have a diving partner, so she needed to have someone until that final scene at least.  And I think he served a purpose in the story playing the straight man as a counterpoint to her obsessive compulsion.  He also upped the tension in the final scenes because she had to return to the surface to get him more air, and then had to go back down by herself, which all would've been less tense if she hadn't had to do that.  Maybe he served other narrative purposes too, but that was good enough for me.

I think, Unblinking, that you're mixing up Mark with Barry here. Mark wasn't at the final scene. But I think sykoticwit got it right in his response:

Aside from a generic diving partner (you never do high risk stuff like diving or climbing alone, safety in numbers and whatnot…) Mark was an example of what she gave up in her search for her father. After her father's disappearance she went from being an engaging and fun person to a driven person with one goal, finding her father, and she gave up her entire life for seven years in pursuit of that goal. Mark was a variation of her choosing her obsession over friends and family, and when she returned to him at the end, it was her finally admitting that her father was dead (metaphorically speaking, since he wasn't, you know, actually dead).

And Mark's character was laid out to be a bit of an introvert, (maybe slightly socially inept?) so it seems plausible to me that he may not have moved on after Elle became obsessed. It felt to me like he was a friend, and lover, who would always be there for her.

Man, why can't I write a review in less than a rant?

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timprov

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Reply #12 on: July 05, 2012, 09:03:59 PM
This is one of the few stories I've heard or read where the not so happy ending felt earned.  *Should  I say Spoiler alert?  Not sure so I'll just say it.*

*Spoiler alert!*

When the Dad said he was going to stay I yelled in my car "What? What an butthead!"  I was angry he just abandoned his child like that, I thought maybe he wasn't able to go back, that there was some medical or other reason but no, he didn't want to go back because he wanted do something that was a once in a  lifetime thing?  How about raising a daughter!  That sounds like a once in a lifetime thing too! God, what a jerk. 

Obviously I loved the story if I felt that emotionally attached to the lead character enough where I felt her anger, felt her pain.  Also, her last words to her father?  Yeah, I was going to say that too.   I do wonder what the letter said but then I thought, what difference could it make?



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Unblinking

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Reply #13 on: July 06, 2012, 01:47:32 PM
I think, Unblinking, that you're mixing up Mark with Barry here. Mark wasn't at the final scene.

Oh!  I am absolutely terrible with names, both in real life and in stories.  I usually kind of keep track of who people are more by context, and to really learn them I have to mentally repeat them over and over and over.  Unless your name's Ismael Plenty, or something weird like that.  So, to my mind, Mark and Barry served similar enough roles that I thought they were the same person.

When I get confused when listening to a story, I think this is a major contributor.  This gave me a lot of trouble when listening to "Wane" over on Podcastle because I was having trouble separating the two men who were voiced by Alasdair, because it took me most of the story to realize they weren't the same person because I'd just remembered him as "the guy who sounds like Alasdair".



Devoted135

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Reply #14 on: July 09, 2012, 02:18:27 PM
When I get confused when listening to a story, I think this is a major contributor.  This gave me a lot of trouble when listening to "Wane" over on Podcastle because I was having trouble separating the two men who were voiced by Alasdair, because it took me most of the story to realize they weren't the same person because I'd just remembered him as "the guy who sounds like Alasdair".

Um, there were at least four male characters voiced by Alasdair in "Wane". :P
The Prince, the Ambassador, the wampyr, the current love interest.



Devoted135

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Reply #15 on: July 09, 2012, 02:23:58 PM
Okay, commenting on the story now :P

I really liked this one, and definitely got caught up in all of the longings and frustrations of the main character. There's a fine line between "the only one in the world who knows the truth about dad" and "crazy" and I thought that she walked this line really well. I did want to know why she only had such a small amount of time in the portal, but it makes perfect sense that her dad wouldn't bother to explain even this important detail.



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Reply #16 on: July 09, 2012, 02:41:20 PM
When I get confused when listening to a story, I think this is a major contributor.  This gave me a lot of trouble when listening to "Wane" over on Podcastle because I was having trouble separating the two men who were voiced by Alasdair, because it took me most of the story to realize they weren't the same person because I'd just remembered him as "the guy who sounds like Alasdair".

Um, there were at least four male characters voiced by Alasdair in "Wane". :P
The Prince, the Ambassador, the wampyr, the current love interest.

Really?  Wow I was even more confused than I thought.  I think that I thought the vampyr was also the ambassador, and that the love interest was also the prince.



Devoted135

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Reply #17 on: July 09, 2012, 02:52:27 PM
When I get confused when listening to a story, I think this is a major contributor.  This gave me a lot of trouble when listening to "Wane" over on Podcastle because I was having trouble separating the two men who were voiced by Alasdair, because it took me most of the story to realize they weren't the same person because I'd just remembered him as "the guy who sounds like Alasdair".

Um, there were at least four male characters voiced by Alasdair in "Wane". :P
The Prince, the Ambassador, the wampyr, the current love interest.

Really?  Wow I was even more confused than I thought.  I think that I thought the vampyr was also the ambassador, and that the love interest was also the prince.

I also thought the ambassador and the wampyr were the same person, I actually had to listen to it twice to really get everything straight.



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #18 on: July 09, 2012, 10:08:28 PM
I think I may be alone in guessing where this story was going, but it still make Dad a massive prick (ok, THAT part I didn't see), and I really liked the well-rounded female main character.



olivaw

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Reply #19 on: July 10, 2012, 12:10:29 AM
I agree that you could have told this story without the diving or the time travel, but it would have lost most of the tension and suspense. The mysterious disappearance of her father added suspense to the story as she gave up her entire life in the search for her father.

And you could probably say the same about all good science fiction.  The technology, IMO, shouldn't be the point.

I don't think I agree with that.  While I agree that the technology shouldn't be the only point in a story, IMO if you can remove the SF element without changing the story then you should.  In this case I didn't think you could.

I don't think you could have taken the diving out of this story without completely changing it. And while the time portals could have been replaced by some other SF or fantasy device, I can't think of any mundane macguffin which would have been at all comparable, in function or in sensawunda.

Also, while it's fair enough to criticise the dad - for not explaining to his family, if nothing else - it's hard not to sympathise with his choice to abandon his homelife for an extraordinary and profound discovery.



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #20 on: July 10, 2012, 09:25:59 AM
<Pedant> A child of ten would be in fourth grade, not the summer after the second. And a child of 12 would be in sixth grade, not fourth. Rule of thumb: people generally have their sixth birthday in first grade.</Pedant>

The story had everything a good story needs. It was compelling, interesting, had a good plot, told the backstory nicely and had three dimensional characters.
The tense changes between the now and the flashbacks bothered me a little bit, until I realized what they were doing. Then I was just bothered by the present tense of the current story. It's very hard to properly tell a story in the present tense, and in this case I don't think the author succeeded very well. This detracted a little bit from my enjoyment of the story. It was good, but could have easily been better.

As for the whole scifi debate....
You guys, science fiction isn't (just) about the technology. A simplistic approach would be to say that science fiction explains the unexplainable by using pseudo-science and fantasy uses magic and perhaps spiritualism to accomplish the same goals.
But that's not really the whole story.
Science fiction and fantasy often deal with very different aspects, plotlines. Replacing the time traveling portal with a gateway to the Dungeon Dimensions will not turn this story into a fantasy story any more than replacing Frodo's ring with a supernova bomb will make LOTR into a science fiction story.
Science fiction tends (and this it not an all-inclusive definition) to explore the humanity of the characters and the morality of their actions. It explores people as individuals and as a society, and how they come to grips with whatever it is that is happening in the story. Fantasy tends to be more of an epic. It's less about the people and more about the quest. (Yes, not all fantasy stories are quests per se, but in some fashion or another they are).
The best stories of both genres will have aspects of both elements, it's just a question of what is the main issue, and what the side issue. That is what decides That is how I decide whether a story is scifi or fantasy.

Having said that, this story is clearly a science fiction story, and cannot be replaced by an anthropologist running off to live with the natives. That will just make it a human interest story, not a science fiction. Science fiction is also human interest, but as Dave said in the intro, it's about exploring. Exploring ourselves, and our local neighborhood in spacetime (which extends 125 years into the future).
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 05:16:13 AM by Max e^{i pi} »

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Reply #21 on: July 10, 2012, 01:55:23 PM
That is what decides whether a story is scifi or fantasy.

I've never heard that particular definition before.  But in any case, many different people have many different definitions.  I don't particularly care about the boundary between the two because what I want to read is speculative fiction in general, stories not limited by the known reality. 

I only really care about the boundaries between the subgenres when I am submitting to magazines, and then I take the broadest possible interpretation.  I have stories that I would happily submit to all three EA podcasts (in sequence of course, not parallel).



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Reply #22 on: July 10, 2012, 01:59:34 PM
That is what decides whether a story is scifi or fantasy.
I've never heard that particular definition before.
Well, I never saw it written down anywhere. I sort of came up with it myself after much exposure to many different types of stories self-classified as science fiction and fantasy.
You are more than welcome to disagree, or ignore it completely. It's just my own opinion.

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Reply #23 on: July 10, 2012, 03:21:39 PM

Science fiction tends (and this it not an all-inclusive definition) to explore the humanity of the characters and the morality of their actions. It explores people as individuals and as a society, and how they come to grips with whatever it is that is happening in the story. Fantasy tends to be more of an epic. It's less about the people and more about the quest. (Yes, not all fantasy stories are quests per se, but in some fashion or another they are).
The best stories of both genres will have aspects of both elements, it's just a question of what is the main issue, and what the side issue. That is what decides whether a story is scifi or fantasy.


At the risk of derailing this thread, I'm quite sure I completely disagree with this. SF is full of epic quests, especially in Space Opera (you aren't going to build a wall around Space Opera and tell me it's not SF, are you?). Are the Foundation series or Dune not epic? Or at least a little about a quest of some sort? Let's use one of Hard SF's darlings, Alasdair Reynolds and his recent House of Suns. Going over 6 million years is pretty epic, and I would say there's a quest involved. And there's plenty of character studies in Fantasy, from Tolkien to Gaiman. Having characters as individuals isn't a mark of SF, it's a mark of good writing. There are also plenty of Fantasy stories that aren't Epic, either.

For me, the difference is rather simple, but involves whether or not the story relies on an understandable, naturalistic (that is, non-supernatural) explanation for the goings-on in the story. I realize that things like "hyperdrive" are scientific voodoo, but the hand-waving does not involve "and a demon did it". SF is - or at least should be - concerned with things that might be possible. Fantasy more often uses things that are clearly not possible.



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Reply #24 on: July 10, 2012, 04:34:54 PM
That is what decides whether a story is scifi or fantasy.
I've never heard that particular definition before.
Well, I never saw it written down anywhere. I sort of came up with it myself after much exposure to many different types of stories self-classified as science fiction and fantasy.
You are more than welcome to disagree, or ignore it completely. It's just my own opinion.

Yeah, I was just pointing out that "That is what decides whether a story is scifi or fantasy" sounds like a statement of fact.  I don't believe there has ever been a widely accepted definition of the boundary between the two, and I doubt there ever will be.  So I will remain skeptical of any statement that seems to define the boundary as anything but a matter of opinion.  :)



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Reply #25 on: July 10, 2012, 04:51:59 PM
For me, the difference is rather simple, but involves whether or not the story relies on an understandable, naturalistic (that is, non-supernatural) explanation for the goings-on in the story. I realize that things like "hyperdrive" are scientific voodoo, but the hand-waving does not involve "and a demon did it". SF is - or at least should be - concerned with things that might be possible. Fantasy more often uses things that are clearly not possible.

This is much closer to the definition that I use to sort SF and Fantasy in my head, but more specifically I ask if the characters consider themselves to be using technology or magic.

I was going to use Battlestar Galactica for my example: the quest to find Earth and all...  :D



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Reply #26 on: July 11, 2012, 04:01:29 PM
Good story.  Physical descriptions were brief and characters emotions were mainly defined by their actions and dialogue.  Nobody was "yearning" or "smiling sardonically."  Some of the argument dialogue could have been reworked.  It sounded fakey.  Way too long on her figuring out the dad's secret notes.  We get it.  Don't belabor the point. 
Her anger when finding her dad was mercifully short.  She could have spent more time on the other side, but the story was long enough.  Destroying the letter was a cop out.  Should have given a summary or not mentioned it. 
It was an interesting idea.  Lost of dads abandon their families.  This guy had a reason.



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Reply #27 on: July 11, 2012, 10:59:15 PM

There's the other diving story here with a ribbon shark. That one was pretty awesome, too.


Thanks for the link!

That one was indeed pretty awesome, too :)



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Reply #28 on: July 12, 2012, 09:21:38 PM

There's the other diving story here with a ribbon shark. That one was pretty awesome, too.


Thanks for the link!

That one was indeed pretty awesome, too :)

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Reply #29 on: July 13, 2012, 02:05:00 PM
Destroying the letter was a cop out.  Should have given a summary or not mentioned it. 

I disagree.  Her destruction of the letter more clearly illustrated her character arc than anything else in the story.  She has changed as a result of finding her dad.  Before that last dive she would've given anything to get a letter from her dad, and apparently he could've given one to her at any point but he preferred her to think him dead.  As a result of that final rejection, she has made her choice, and she sticks with it.

If the story had not mentioned the letter, then it would've changed the tone of the conclusion to a great degree.  Sure she's mad, but she might still forgive him, and might be open to contact if he words it right, maybe.

If the story had given a summary of the letter, it would've changed  everything too.  It would've shown that she was willing to give him another chance. 

IMO, handling the letter sequence in any other way would've weakened the story.



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Reply #30 on: July 13, 2012, 11:50:06 PM
I liked much of the story but found two parts quite unsatisfactory.  First, the dad never explained why she had to go back so quickly, and he never said or suggested that there was anything to stop her from coming back for another chat.  Why didn't she just come back another time and demand more details and answers?  I suppose we could say she was just so pissed off at him abandoning her that she decided to turn her back on him forever, but that seems hard to believe after 7 years of questing to find him.  I would imagine many people would just come back a few weeks or months later.

Also, it just didn't make sense to me that they would both give up so quickly on talking further when it seemed perfectly allowable in the world built by the author for the daughter to come back another time, bring four more oxygen tanks, and have the dad come through the portal to at least hang out with his daughter in her time, underwater.

Lastly, it often irritates me in stories like this when someone discovers some huge world changing technology or artifact and they don't even think about sharing the news.  There is no way anyone in this forum would be able to turn their back on a portal through time.  Am I right?








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Reply #31 on: July 14, 2012, 12:07:36 AM
Lastly, it often irritates me in stories like this when someone discovers some huge world changing technology or artifact and they don't even think about sharing the news.  There is no way anyone in this forum would be able to turn their back on a portal through time.  Am I right?

You know, that's a very good point.

On the one hand, something so traumatically mind-bendingly sf may well send the average joe off to a life of don't think about it, whistling past the graveyard denial.

The girl in this story though? No way. She's staunch.

Perhaps a 113 Feet 2 might be in order ?



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Reply #32 on: July 16, 2012, 06:25:51 PM
Hello. It is I, the author. My thanks to everyone who read and commented on this story. I'm very pleased and proud to have had it presented as an Escape Pod Original, especially since it was inspired by Steve's comments in Episode 147: "Pressure". I literally went from my car to my computer at work and started writing this story that very day. Don't tell my old boss that, though.

Like Elle, I was a scuba diver as a kid. It was something I could do with my dad on the weekends, and we dove together almost every Saturday for more than four years. A lot of the backstory on Elle becoming a diver is based upon those scenes. Also, like Elle's grandfather, my grandfather owned a boat (although we never did get around to diving off it, and I certainly never stole it). I hadn't dove in a while when I wrote this, though, so I went to my local dive shop and met with a Dive Master (also one of my county's coroners -- go figure) to workshop all the diving scenes.

This was the first genre story I attempted to sell professionally. I wrote the first draft in 2008 (about 12,000 words) and aimed really, really high, sending it to Asimov's. The editor rejected it, but gave me a full-page critique, which I really appreciated, along with an invitation to revise and re-submit. So I did, and got another full-page critique with my second rejection. From there, the story went through several metamorphoses; the version you heard (or read) is about the fifth draft, and is almost 5000 words shorter than the original. Several scenes were cut, including one where Elle breaks into Barry's house, and the finale on the other side of the portal was added.

Yes. You heard that right. In the first draft, I never actually revealed what happened to Elle -- because when I wrote the story, I didn't know. To me, that's one of the most fun kinds of stories to write: the kind where I don't actually know what's going to happen. That way, I can surprise myself along the way and I keep writing because I want to know what's coming next. Fortunately, the critiques I got put the kibosh on that right out of the gate.

So, thanks again to Mur and company for purchasing, producing, and publishing this piece. I'm glad to see that so many people enjoyed it.

Some posters have asked questions that I can't answer because I don't know the answers:
* What did the letter say?
* Why did she only have a short amount of time on the other side of the portal?

Who says "I'll never dive again" in the final scene? Elle.

How can you have a sunken wreck without some tentacle gods? At the time, my exposure to Cthulhu was woefully limited, and honestly that subgenre isn't really my favorite one.

Why did the storms happen? I believe I answered this in the text -- the energy from the transition through the portal has to go somewhere, and storms over water are generally safer than risking explosions and such over land.

Why was the stuff on the other side of the portal written in past-tense? Mostly because I'm a slave to format -- since that part technically didn't occur in the present (it happened a couple hundred years in the future), I didn't write it in present-tense. I'm surprisingly picky about stuff like that -- in a multi-POV novel I'm writing, I get weirded out when I reuse a character's POV in the same chapter because, in general, I don't do that through the rest of the book.

Will there be a sequel? Doubtful. I am rather curious what Elle is going to do with her life now that her great quest is over. Maybe she'll show up as a minor character in something else I write. I have a habit of reusing characters out of narrative convenience and some weird desire to make everything connect to everything else.

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Reply #33 on: July 17, 2012, 02:14:33 PM
Hello. It is I, the author. My thanks to everyone who read and commented on this story. I'm very pleased and proud to have had it presented as an Escape Pod Original, especially since it was inspired by Steve's comments in Episode 147: "Pressure". I literally went from my car to my computer at work and started writing this story that very day. Don't tell my old boss that, though.

I don't think I realized this was your story, Listener.  Congrats!  :)



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Reply #34 on: July 17, 2012, 11:28:38 PM
Hey, Congrats, Listener. That's great that EP picked up your story. It's cool to see a member of the forums here get to contribute on the other end. (Thank goodness I didn't rag on this one too hard, or make insults to the author's mother or anything, hehe.)

I admire anyone who is willing to throw themselves to the mercies of these forumers, especially since we tend to be a little more critical than complimentary. Someday I hope to be the one putting myself up here for critique. Currently all my writing is focused on winning Writers of the Future, but I think I'm going to start sending the rejects Mur's way.

Now that we have the author's ear, so to speak, I would like to ask you directly, as I mentioned in my earlier post, why you didn't stick to your format of past tense for "yesterday's" events and present tense for "today's" events. I mean, I really enjoyed that format and was thrown off a bit when the scene between Elle and her father was in past tense even though it was part of "today's" story. Was this a conscious decision, or did you simply not want to throw off the pattern of Present, Past, Present, Past, etc?

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Reply #35 on: July 18, 2012, 01:15:05 AM
I admire anyone who is willing to throw themselves to the mercies of these forumers, especially since we tend to be a little more critical than complimentary.

Compared to my high school journalism teacher, you guys aren't so bad.

Now that we have the author's ear, so to speak, I would like to ask you directly, as I mentioned in my earlier post, why you didn't stick to your format of past tense for "yesterday's" events and present tense for "today's" events. I mean, I really enjoyed that format and was thrown off a bit when the scene between Elle and her father was in past tense even though it was part of "today's" story. Was this a conscious decision, or did you simply not want to throw off the pattern of Present, Past, Present, Past, etc?

Mainly this:

Why was the stuff on the other side of the portal written in past-tense? Mostly because I'm a slave to format -- since that part technically didn't occur in the present (it happened a couple hundred years in the future), I didn't write it in present-tense. I'm surprisingly picky about stuff like that -- in a multi-POV novel I'm writing, I get weirded out when I reuse a character's POV in the same chapter because, in general, I don't do that through the rest of the book.

So, it was both a conscious decision and me not wanting to lose the pattern.

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Reply #36 on: July 18, 2012, 02:06:39 AM
Mainly this:
Why was the stuff on the other side of the portal written in past-tense? Mostly because I'm a slave to format -- since that part technically didn't occur in the present (it happened a couple hundred years in the future), I didn't write it in present-tense. I'm surprisingly picky about stuff like that -- in a multi-POV novel I'm writing, I get weirded out when I reuse a character's POV in the same chapter because, in general, I don't do that through the rest of the book.

Now I feel dumb for having missed this explanation initially. I did read this and just must have misunderstood what you were saying. Thanks for re-clarifying without mockery, hehe.

And I get being a slave to format. Also, I think the line "I was twenty-two when I found my father." is much better and stronger in past tense. So it works. In all, a good story. I hope to see/hear more from you here in the future.

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Reply #37 on: July 18, 2012, 02:12:16 AM
I hope to see/hear more from you here in the future.

Well, EP hasn't bought any more of my stories yet, but I have two forthcoming on another podcast -- not sure when, but... soon? I hope? Your guess is as good as mine.

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Reply #38 on: July 18, 2012, 11:53:21 PM
Hmm I don't particularly have much to add, but I'm getting very stubborn on commenting on everything I listed to here, so matter how inane my comments might have to be, so there. I enjoyed the story and admit, that I didn't catch the grammar changes direction, but I think that means it worked well for me. One only tends to notice grammar when it clashes or is unusual, I find.

And congratulations Listerner!




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Reply #39 on: July 19, 2012, 02:02:51 PM
I hope to see/hear more from you here in the future.

Well, EP hasn't bought any more of my stories yet, but I have two forthcoming on another podcast -- not sure when, but... soon? I hope? Your guess is as good as mine.

What other podcast?  Can you divulge?

I'm looking forward to having my first EP story in the nearish future.  :)



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Reply #40 on: July 19, 2012, 02:09:26 PM
I hope to see/hear more from you here in the future.

Well, EP hasn't bought any more of my stories yet, but I have two forthcoming on another podcast -- not sure when, but... soon? I hope? Your guess is as good as mine.

What other podcast?  Can you divulge?

I'm looking forward to having my first EP story in the nearish future.  :)

The Dunesteef. I've signed the contracts, so they'll appear when they do. I can haz patience.

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Reply #41 on: July 19, 2012, 04:40:13 PM
I hope to see/hear more from you here in the future.

Well, EP hasn't bought any more of my stories yet, but I have two forthcoming on another podcast -- not sure when, but... soon? I hope? Your guess is as good as mine.

What other podcast?  Can you divulge?

I'm looking forward to having my first EP story in the nearish future.  :)

The Dunesteef. I've signed the contracts, so they'll appear when they do. I can haz patience.

Ah, the Dunesteef.  I love their work.  They're one of the podcasts I listen to so I'll hear yours there too.  :)



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Reply #42 on: July 24, 2012, 01:47:58 PM
I liked this one, and I'm SO glad that you decided to add in the epilogue.  It completely changed my mind about the father, or rather brought to light the truth about him.  He was a dick.  He abandoned his family, with no explanation, to live in this other place.  Granted, it is the future, and that's neat, but if he really wanted to, he COULD have found a way to come back and explain to his family what happened.  He could have come back with an EPIRB, he could have sent back word with one of the other time travelers, he could have used some future technology to get a message back, or something else I can't think of.

But he didn't.  He stayed in the future, and let his family think he was dead.  As it was, looking back at the story, he had been spending more and more time apart from the family, I assume in search of the portals, he NEVER told his daughter he dove, never shared time with her doing the thing she loved the most, and more I look at it, the more I think "Yeah, this guy was an absentee dad/husband."  Eleanora did a good job closing that part of her life and moving on.  She deserved better, and I feel bad that she wasted 7 years of her life trying to reconnect. 

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Reply #43 on: July 27, 2012, 03:58:06 PM
I enjoyed this story, but everyone has already said everything I wanted to say...
  - finding the father was absolutely necessary to the story
  - I'm curious about the letter, but agree the story needs it to be unopened
  - I didn't notice the grammar changes at all, so it must have been well done
and most importantly of all
  - congratulations Listener!!



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Reply #44 on: August 06, 2012, 07:42:26 PM
Good job, Listener.

For me, this story reminded me of the one over at Podcastle, the one where the wife ditches her husband to live in Fairyland. At least in that story, she sort of warned her husband she was leaving, even though it was after the fact. But she didn't make him think she was dead that entire time.

I am glad that the MC was able to move on. I think I found that more distressing than what the father did, that she wasted all this time searching for her father when she could have been doing other things. And at the same time, I can see how she *needed* that closure. Glad she got it.

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Reply #45 on: August 06, 2012, 08:12:46 PM
I'm glad LaShawn posted about this story because it has promted me to do so as well. I am trying to catch up on my podcast backlog, and haven't had time to comment.

I really liked this story on many levels.  I loved the MC's emotional commitment, and her reaction to the outcome of her journey.  I also enjoyed the underwater diving aspect.  It truly is a compelling and exotic setting for a story!  Josh mixed it well with all of the other element of the story.

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Reply #46 on: September 19, 2012, 07:34:34 AM
I liked this one OK, it was mostly the diving parts and the ending that makes it stand out from the rest. The theme of the absent father is well handled and it was certainly a relief not to get the sugarsweet ending of it. I certainly understand her rage against her father, even if she might regret destroying that letter in the future. Beside from that the characters are a bit sketchy, but not too cliche. My main problem with the story was that once the 't' word was out (transdimensionality, obviously) the journey to the moment where she would go through the portal became a bit predictable.  Nevertheless, well done Listener (time for a name change?)