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Author Topic: EP352: Food for Thought  (Read 2964 times)
eytanz
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« on: July 06, 2012, 03:16:34 PM »

EP352 Food for Thought

By Laura Lee McArdle

Read by Christiana Ellis

An Escape Pod Original!

---

He didn’t look much like the humans I knew—their eyes squinting out of wind-burnt faces from atop the backs of their rude horses. This one had a face like butter, not a wrinkle to be seen. And he didn’t arrive on a horse, rude or otherwise, just popped out of thin air and started talking to me. Not at me. To me.

“Slow down,” I said flicking a fly off my broad backside. “Wilfred, right? You are responsible for the fence posts?”

“Yeah sure,” said Wilfred. “Now listen to me. I just need a thirty second vignette when I say ‘action’. Can you do that for me?

“Sure,” I said. I love to talk about myself.

“You heard the animal,” he shouted to no one I could see. “Food For Thought, take one. Action!”

“Uh, Bess here. Folks call me the conspiracy theorist.  And I laugh.  But honestly if you don’t spend some time speculating out here what are you going to do?  Me, I walk the fence, count the posts and calculate trigonometric functions.  And I am convinced there is a way to get my 1200 lb bulk past these 4000 odd posts and reams of barbed wire.

By the way, I’ve come pretty far with the weight issue, thank you very much. The secret is small frequent meals, so I pretty much eat a little bit all the time when I’m not counting posts.  The other trick, that I don’t think any of my sisters have clocked on to, is to just not use stomachs three and four. Sure it takes practice, even surgery for lesser minds, but if you don’t have a project out here you will simply go
mad.

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2012, 07:01:21 PM »

Well, I'll start this one off by saying it was just fun. Stupid, but fun. I enjoyed the lightness of it, the many bovine references, like inferring that boredom will cause the cows to go mad, ie mad cow disease. Funny. And the ending line actually made me laugh aloud.

I liked it.

(Look, I kept it short)
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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2012, 08:13:44 AM »

Bonkers! Disbelief suspended so high it got vertigo Grin
So where do I get a mathematically savant cow, then? My accounts are in a mess.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2012, 08:53:26 AM »

A very fun idea.  The savant cow reminded me of Terry Pratchett's camels which when they're outwardly appearing to be stubborn are internally computing complex mathematics.

I found the idea and the conversations with the cow entertaining.  "In the future wars are purely psychological!!"

And the ending line actually made me laugh aloud.

Uhhhh.... so, could you explain to me what the ending line meant?  I thought I was understanding everything until that line, which I couldn't figure out.
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Pirvonen
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2012, 10:16:38 AM »

A charming concept. A truly lovely twist ending!
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2012, 03:17:06 PM »

Uhhhh.... so, could you explain to me what the ending line meant?  I thought I was understanding everything until that line, which I couldn't figure out.

To be honest, I'm not entirely certain I understand it either. The reason it made me laugh was because it so clashed with my expectations. Here our bovine protag is faced with a time traveling bull from the future, and I'm expecting some line like, "We received your distress call and are here to help", or "We've come to aid you, fellow cow", or some other such predictable statement. Instead, we get a reference to fulfilling some loop in the space/time continuum. I assume this is the author's way of plugging any sort of plot hole that may be caused by the time traveling cow. It made me laugh because it's almost like the bull is speaking to the reader rather than the cow, which yes, is typically bad in a story, but within this inane tale, it fit perfectly.

Maybe I missed the real point, but that's how I took it and it made me laugh.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2012, 05:10:38 PM »

I thought this was hilarious, especially with the twist. And I loved the completely un-PC over-the-top effeminate TV producer. Who really deserved to be sat on by a cow.
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Pirvonen
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2012, 03:09:24 AM »

I thought the bull meant that to get to a world of sapient bovines, he needs to rescue the original pinnacle of cow cogitation. Unlike McKay, I did not originally see it as meta but completely within-universe logical step.

Taking it as meta, it works rather nicely, too.
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matweller
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2012, 08:02:18 AM »

I thought the bull meant that to get to a world of sapient bovines, he needs to rescue the original pinnacle of cow cogitation.

Something of a bovine Star Trek 4 scenario... Tongue
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« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2012, 08:50:47 AM »

It made me laugh because it's almost like the bull is speaking to the reader rather than the cow, which yes, is typically bad in a story, but within this inane tale, it fit perfectly.

Talking to the reader doesn't bother me in certain circumstances, and the end line of a silly story like this is a decent place for it (if that's what it indeed was).
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Scatcatpdx
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« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2012, 12:45:20 PM »

The first thing that popped into my mind was an unwilling Dish of the Day. (I let you guess what I am talking about)
I enjoyed the digs at narcissistic producers and reality TV.  Still the abrupt ending  did not sit well with me , it like an incomplete  punch line.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 04:08:30 PM by Scatcatpdx » Logged
Devoted135
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« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2012, 02:57:21 PM »

I found this to be huuuumorously light-hearted and thus was quite amuuuuuused throuuuuughout. The ending line did sort of throw me, but I like both the meta and the cow cognition explanations, so I'm willing to roll with it. Smiley

What does Escape Pod mean when it says to "have fun"? This story embodies the sentiment.
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Chris Turner
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« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2012, 04:11:06 PM »

I really loved this story. I've been listening to Escape Pod for a couple of years but this was so entertaining and funny. I also loved the narration by Cristiana Ellis - could have been made by Pixar.
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SF.Fangirl
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« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2012, 08:31:39 PM »

 Wink Silly, fun, and enjoyable.  I took the last line, in story, to mean that Bess's dive into the time portal eventually led to her becoming the mother of the bovine species that becomes the masters of the earth (Planet of the Cows) and this rescue was the start of it all.  Causality loop closed!
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2012, 10:11:52 PM »

- could have been made by Pixar.

Without the F-Bombs and such, of course...  Grin
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« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2012, 03:25:34 AM »

A very fun idea.  The savant cow reminded me of Terry Pratchett's camels which when they're outwardly appearing to be stubborn are internally computing complex mathematics.
At first I thought it WAS a camel. But then I got the bovine references.

The first thing that popped into my mind was an unwilling Dish of the Day. (I let You GUESS what I am talking about)
When Wilfred came and explained the reality TV thing that was my thought too. I also groaned inwardly and immediately began to hate Wilfred because I despise reality TV and everything related to it.

Uhhhh.... so, could you explain to me what the ending line meant?  I thought I was understanding everything until that line, which I couldn't figure out.
A causality loop is a kind of logical impossibility where a series of events constantly triggers itself. Sort of like a chicken and the egg problem. Which came first? One way to solve it would be with a causality loop. The chicken comes back in time, and lays the egg from which it hatches so that it can lay its own egg.
The space-faring bovine seemed to think that he (she?) was here in order to maintain some sort of causality loop that eventually leads to the existence of a space-faring bovine race. Simply put: Bess is the matriarch of hyperintelligent cows. If she dies in this gun fight, there are no hyperintelligent cows. So they send a spaceship back in time to rescue her so that she can get on with producing a race of hyperintelligent cows so that they will be able to eventually go back in time and save her from dying so that.... and so on.

An excellent ending for a time traveling story in my opinion.
The rest of the story was rather silly, but fun.
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aceofwands
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« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2012, 07:14:02 AM »

My heart sank the minute this began.  The weird bedtime story tone, even before it emerged that this was kinda in character, because apparently that's what you do when it's the internal monologue of a cow, just telegraphed everyone involved thought this was kinda a riot.  Not a good place to start the day.

But I waded in anyway - hey, I was stuck in the car till I got to work - and it turned out it wasn't just mommy doing funny animal voices and there was some reality TV satire and they were hanging a few lampshades ontime travel conventions. Maybe this commute wasn't going to turn out too bad after all.

And then it turns out there wasn't really an ending, somebody just ran out of better ideas and pulled the lid off some canned deus ex machina.

Sometimes funny just idn't. Sigh.
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El Barto
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« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2012, 06:56:23 PM »

I like how every now and then Escape Pod runs this kind of silly fun story that actually has a meaty little twist.  (Pun intended.)

This seemed so vapid at first but then it turned into an origin story for an entire species and timeline -- one that was supposedly going to be a dead end (for humans) but then the transport mixup resulted in the lead cow character being the "Eve" for a space-faring bovine species.

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eytanz
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« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2012, 03:57:26 AM »

Moderator's note: I've moved the posts about dissatisfaction with EP's general direction to their own thread. Please continue that discussion there, and keep this thread to being about episode 352 itself. Thanks!
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Listener
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« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2012, 09:48:53 AM »

I found this story pretty hilarious, and I appreciated the little vocal cues the narrator put in to remind us that this was a cow we were listening to.

I realize the cow was sentient, or at least pre-sentient, but she had an awfully big fixation on hitting Wilfred in the crotch. Is that a Thing cows are doing now?

I liked the image of the cow-savior coming to save his ancestor. The gunfight was a little strange and off-putting, but I listened "around" it.
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