Author Topic: EP361: Ashes on the Water  (Read 12418 times)

Talia

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on: September 13, 2012, 09:06:31 PM
EP361: Ashes on the Water

By Gwendolyn Clare

Read by Mur Lafferty

Originally appeared in Asimov’s, 2011

---

I hoped that Ranjeet’s friends were as disreputable as promised.  Ranjeet himself was late, of course.  I’d asked him to park his car out on the road and meet me behind the house–my cousin is, shall we say, out of favor, and I couldn’t afford to get caught with him.  So I sat on the dry, cracked ground in the shadow of the house, waiting where Father wouldn’t think to look for me.  A meter away, heat rose off the sun-baked earth, wavering like water, as if the dormant land dreamed of monsoon season.  I shut my eyes against the image.  For years now, each summer has come harsher than the last.

Soft footsteps in the dirt, and Ranjeet strolled around the corner of the house, calling, “You’ll never make it across the border, kid.”

I stood up and brushed the dust off my jeans, annoyed. Seventeen and he still calls me a kid.  “Why don’t you say that a little louder?  I don’t think the neighbors could hear you clearly.”


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!



Listener

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Reply #1 on: September 14, 2012, 12:17:26 PM
King, mountain, etc.

I feel average about the story. I didn't love it; I didn't dislike it. It didn't stretch my expectations or horizons, and it didn't have any glaring errors that I can point out. Mostly, it was just... there. It was published in Asimov's and reprinted here, and that's two professional markets, so clearly it has something, but as George Hrab sang, "we don't know what that something really is." -- where "we" is "I".

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Dem

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Reply #2 on: September 14, 2012, 12:45:23 PM
That's pretty much my view. It's beautifully written, lyrical and articulate, but without much substance beyond an apocryphal vision. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.


DoWhileNot

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Reply #3 on: September 16, 2012, 11:20:05 PM
The story is simple - a girl's quest to give her sister a proper burial.  The setting is what makes this a science fiction story: an India without rivers.  The language is beautiful and pulled me into the dream easilly and kept me there through the whole story.

My big question came later - was this a story where the point was to experience the growth of the main character as she achieves her goal, or was the story more an adjenda driven story meant to impress in the reader that global warming is going to destroy everything to the point where you can't even bury your dead in the old traditional way?

I think maybe the answer is a little of both.  The main character did seem to grow a little, especially when she began thinking of the future of her village again, but that growth seemed to be more a reflection of her search for water rather than acomplishing her quest.  I know that she had to find water to bury her sister, but the story seemed to be more about the lack of water than the of the burial. 



scpasson

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Reply #4 on: September 17, 2012, 07:33:06 AM
spoiler alert

The reading threw me on this one.  Both the language in the story and the reader felt distinctly American.  The slang used was modern American tech slang.  Later when the protagonist had to use English this far South it made the contrast even more apparent.  Normally I don't care who reads a story as long as it is read well which it was, but in this case I kept transplanting the story to a now desert Napa valley. 

Once I heard that they had vacationed by the ocean, I knew she would go to the ocean again and I wondered why that wasn't the plan all along.  Her future goals seemed naive, but she is 17 so being naive is totally reasonable. 

It was a very real story where grief was real and repressed at the same time.  The heroine seemed so focused on the river when no one saw the necessity of it.  She wanted a ceremony to give her permission to move on, but the closure she gets doesn't really feel real either because burying someone doesn't take away the grief, but it was an action that she could complete to tell herself she had done enough and it was time to move on.




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Reply #5 on: September 17, 2012, 12:49:52 PM
*spoilers*

I really enjoyed this story - and the reading. The language chosen by the author painted the world picture very clearly in my mind, and I'd love to read or hear more in this universe. But as much as the description of the impact of global warming on India grabbed my attention, the characters were what really hooked me. The very human ways that the protagonist and her mother dealt with their grief and loss were compelling, and the quest felt very genuine. I half expected when she arrived at the dry river bed that she would simply leave her sister's ashes there in hope for when river's return, but was very happy when the story changed to one of hope rather than stopping where hope was lost.



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Reply #6 on: September 18, 2012, 08:58:52 AM
One thing that bugged me was Mur's pronunciation of "Jojoba" (probably because I used to live in Tucson)

It's "ho-HO-ba",  it's an O'odham word that was originally written down by Spanish priests.



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Reply #7 on: September 18, 2012, 12:53:06 PM
It's "ho-HO-ba",  it's an O'odham word that was originally written down by Spanish priests.

Oh Tucksun....

If it was a J written by Spaniards, wouldn't it be "yoyoba" then?



Cutter McKay

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Reply #8 on: September 18, 2012, 05:12:33 PM
**Spoilers**

I found this story to be very bland. Like Listener said, it didn't stretch my expectations or horizons. I think the biggest problem I had was the complete lack of any strong opposition. Sure, there was some opposition, but each trial was so easily overcome that it barely felt like opposition at all: She can't get to the river near them, so she gets some forged papers (with little to no effort), she easily crosses the borders, finds a river, but it's dry, so she moves on until she reaches the ocean, and it's done. There is never any point where I felt like she might actually fail in her quest. I didn't fear for her, I didn't feel for her.

Had there been real trials for her at each junction, ie. guards who wouldn't let her pass despite her forged papers; the journey to the ocean being nigh impossible due to distance or physical impairments; threats of losing he sister's ashes, or having them taken away; in other words if I had felt like she actually had to work for her goal, and that reaching the ocean at the end was a real victory for her, I may have been more drawn into this story. But there was nothing to make me care.

The story was well written, descriptive, and solid (Not overly wordy or anything), it just held little for me. I don't regret listening, but it's not one I'm likely to recommend to others. It has been professionally published, twice now, so perhaps I'm just missing the point.

Also, I prefer my sci-fi to be a little more sci-fi. Just because a story is set in the future, doesn't mean it's science fiction.

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Litch

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Reply #9 on: September 18, 2012, 05:40:09 PM

If it was a J written by Spaniards, wouldn't it be "yoyoba" then?

<pedant> The spanish 'J' is what is known as a "voiceless velar fricative" and there is no direct English transliteration that truly represents the sound. To say it right you have to close the back of your throat a bit more than when you say an "h" sound. It's like the 'ch' in the Scottish 'loch' & German 'kuchen' or the 'חֲ (h)' in "hannukka". </pedant>

But don't forget it is not a spanish word, it is an O'odham (pima-papago) word and they use a more glotteral "h" sound.



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Reply #10 on: September 18, 2012, 09:44:20 PM
How you say meh or boring in punjabi.

What I see here was not Science Fiction but a bland  fiction piece of a girl trying to bury her sister in a drought stricken land. The story had very little it.



CryptoMe

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Reply #11 on: September 19, 2012, 05:59:02 AM
Another piece of enjoyable fluff.

Two weeks in a row. Huh.



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Reply #12 on: September 20, 2012, 04:18:07 PM
The descriptions of the settings and characters in this story are what ultimately sold it to me. The plot was a little thin, but the richness of the world made up for it.

Sometimes, I'll take form over function. So sue me. :)

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Reply #13 on: September 20, 2012, 10:36:27 PM
Yes.  Bland is an excellent description of how I felt about it.  Not a bad story (I agree with Dem that it was lyrical), but there was nothing to it and I think the problem could well be that it felt really easy for whatever her name was.  I'm gonna get a fake passport and go to the ocean to scatter my sister's remain. "Okay, done, that was easy."  I never felt any fear or despair.  When she cried on the dry riverbed, I felt nothing for her.

And, I agree with scpasson, it also felt like it was taking place in the American west.  I didn't really have that foreign feel.

**Spoilers**

I found this story to be very bland. Like Listener said, it didn't stretch my expectations or horizons. I think the biggest problem I had was the complete lack of any strong opposition. Sure, there was some opposition, but each trial was so easily overcome that it barely felt like opposition at all: She can't get to the river near them, so she gets some forged papers (with little to no effort), she easily crosses the borders, finds a river, but it's dry, so she moves on until she reaches the ocean, and it's done. There is never any point where I felt like she might actually fail in her quest. I didn't fear for her, I didn't feel for her.

Had there been real trials for her at each junction, ie. guards who wouldn't let her pass despite her forged papers; the journey to the ocean being nigh impossible due to distance or physical impairments; threats of losing he sister's ashes, or having them taken away; in other words if I had felt like she actually had to work for her goal, and that reaching the ocean at the end was a real victory for her, I may have been more drawn into this story. But there was nothing to make me care.

The story was well written, descriptive, and solid (Not overly wordy or anything), it just held little for me. I don't regret listening, but it's not one I'm likely to recommend to others. It has been professionally published, twice now, so perhaps I'm just missing the point.

Also, I prefer my sci-fi to be a little more sci-fi. Just because a story is set in the future, doesn't mean it's science fiction.




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Reply #14 on: September 21, 2012, 03:45:21 AM
The narration made it a little difficult for me to enjoy the story. Most of it was great, but the mispronunciation of the Hindi words and Indian names kind of threw me off a bit. Now I have no idea what goes into the narration, or what time constraints you guys have to work with, and I don't want to sound stuck up, but I think it would help if you guys consulted with someone just for a few minutes with the foreign pronunciations. As in, "Hey, how do you say this word?" I'm sorry, that came of as sounding really pretentious. I'll show myself out.



chemistryguy

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Reply #15 on: September 21, 2012, 10:25:45 AM
Quote
Yes.  Bland is an excellent description of how I felt about it.  Not a bad story (I agree with Dem that it was lyrical), but there was nothing to it and I think the problem could well be that it felt really easy for whatever her name was.  I'm gonna get a fake passport and go to the ocean to scatter my sister's remain. "Okay, done, that was easy."  I never felt any fear or despair.  When she cried on the dry riverbed, I felt nothing for her.

Pretty much this.


Gamercow

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Reply #16 on: September 25, 2012, 10:25:44 PM
I liked this one more than most, apparently.  I enjoyed her journey, and I enjoyed the stories of the plants and crops and seasons.  I enjoyed the family scenes, and the way she grew on her journey to become a young woman with her own life, rather than just a younger sister. 

I would LOVE to hear this story read by an Indian woman.  As truly enjoyable as Mur's voice is, having that authentic accent would have really put this story over the top for me.

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #17 on: September 26, 2012, 06:33:39 AM
I too liked this story for its depiction of the narrator's life. And I was mildly horrified with the dry river. And the simple notion that everything else must be better a little farther away.

I have a memory of momentary mental objection to one of the pronunciations of the Indian words. But I do like listening to Mur narrate.



Devoted135

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Reply #18 on: September 28, 2012, 07:46:13 PM
I quite enjoyed this story. It was really great to hear a story that highlighted the culture of the characters, and explored how people might struggle to maintain their cultural identity in the face of both environmental and technological changes. So often SF stories seem to assume that in the future we won't have a culture worth mentioning, or that Earth's population will have homogenized so much as to make all culture a bland amalgamation. Like oatmeal.


I would LOVE to hear this story read by an Indian woman.  As truly enjoyable as Mur's voice is, having that authentic accent would have really put this story over the top for me.

I have to agree with this.



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #19 on: September 30, 2012, 05:58:56 PM
There's a thing that I see a lot in speculative fiction these days - there have been other examples here on Escape Pod, but I can't be bothered to find them right now - and it's starting to aggravate me. This story was a good example. Here is how this thing goes:

In the future, things will change. The brown, ethnic people will have a hard time with these changes. Presumably, the white people will just be getting along in some other corner of the setting because they have a modern, rationalistic world view that wil make it easier for them to adapt. But the brown people, what are they going to do? They struggle and they strive, and they manage to re-enact a version of their quaint ethnic rituals despite the extremity of their times. Victory?

Ugh.

I'm not saying that you never see stories of white people in the future struggling to adapt to a changing world - though it is interesting that these stories rarely pick a specific European cultural motif, but instead present a monolithic view of the dominant culture. However, the fact that these stories always view the conflict as personal rather than cultural is meaningful. It's part of a general trend of "othering" - making the outsider non-dominant group the one that's "different" while assuming that the dominant group is "same," even though of course both are equal relative to each other.

I'm also not saying that this story was bad, exactly. I'm sure there are lots of individuals of all colors and creeds who will have a hard time with the future. It's kind of like that comment I made on a Pseudopod story at some point last year: the metanarrative is getting monotonous. And in this case, a little bit racist.

This story on its own merits, though? It was ok. Didn't thrill me - didn't bore me.

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Reply #20 on: October 01, 2012, 08:36:08 PM
I don't recall global warming being the cause cited. Overdevelopment carries its own problems, and could be another plausible cause. I think the story is strengthened by not having the cause mentioned. The rivers are dry, and the impact of that is the point of the story, not the cause.

I could have had a little more at the ending, though. She's able to finally properly mourn her sister and let her go, so now she looks to the future and what can be done with the dead mango grove. It seemed a bit odd that rather than plan for corps for the next ten years, she was planning to plant things for ten years after that. This is when the story really started to blossom, so it could have benefited from a little more exposition to explain her viewpoint.

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


Gamercow

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Reply #21 on: October 05, 2012, 08:41:49 PM
There's a thing that I see a lot in speculative fiction these days - there have been other examples here on Escape Pod, but I can't be bothered to find them right now - and it's starting to aggravate me. This story was a good example. Here is how this thing goes:

In the future, things will change. The brown, ethnic people will have a hard time with these changes. Presumably, the white people will just be getting along in some other corner of the setting because they have a modern, rationalistic world view that wil make it easier for them to adapt. But the brown people, what are they going to do? They struggle and they strive, and they manage to re-enact a version of their quaint ethnic rituals despite the extremity of their times. Victory?

I understand your complaints, but right now, in 2012, brown people are getting hit harder by droughts and global warming than white people, for many reasons.  I found it realistic that India would get hit very hard by an extended drought, given their very high population, and relatively poor irrigation practices.  I also found the amount of graft, bribery and local corruption to be very real, as that is absolutely a real thing in India right now.

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


Fenrix

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Reply #22 on: October 06, 2012, 05:38:35 AM
There's a thing that I see a lot in speculative fiction these days - there have been other examples here on Escape Pod, but I can't be bothered to find them right now - and it's starting to aggravate me. This story was a good example. Here is how this thing goes:

In the future, things will change. The brown, ethnic people will have a hard time with these changes. Presumably, the white people will just be getting along in some other corner of the setting because they have a modern, rationalistic world view that wil make it easier for them to adapt. But the brown people, what are they going to do? They struggle and they strive, and they manage to re-enact a version of their quaint ethnic rituals despite the extremity of their times. Victory?

I understand your complaints, but right now, in 2012, brown people are getting hit harder by droughts and global warming than white people, for many reasons.  I found it realistic that India would get hit very hard by an extended drought, given their very high population, and relatively poor irrigation practices.  I also found the amount of graft, bribery and local corruption to be very real, as that is absolutely a real thing in India right now.

To add to this, a majority of English speakers have a couple hundred years of observing different white groups assimilating into a larger white culture. The racism against, say, the Irish as presented in Tales from the White Street Society by other white groups was quite real. But we've got clear examples of assimilation. I expect in another hundred years the other groups will be more integrated an closer to each other, but we're not quite there yet.

Food's an interesting thing to consider as part of this. Food based on Chinese principles has slowly worked into the American culture, and in such a fashion, that it has pulled both closer to the other. Things like Chow Mein and Chop Suey started with American flavors and integrated some unusual textures. Then things like General Tso's went the next step to make flavors a little more eastern, while still being within the comfort zone of most Americans. Americanized Chinese food is neither Chinese nor American, yet both at the same time.

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


Carlos Ferreira

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Reply #23 on: October 17, 2012, 08:38:38 PM
I liked this story very much. To me, this is what good science fiction is about: normal people in alien situations.

There was no preaching about causes, but simply an indication of the actions and reactions that institutions and people might take be forced into taking. Governance, freedom, exclusion, our conceptions of "the good life" - and "the good death", presumably - are permanently in flux in a changing world.

I also enjoyed the positive, hopeful ending, where a closure is a new beginning. Life goes on, people go on.



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #24 on: October 17, 2012, 08:54:42 PM
There's a thing that I see a lot in speculative fiction these days - there have been other examples here on Escape Pod, but I can't be bothered to find them right now - and it's starting to aggravate me. This story was a good example. Here is how this thing goes:

In the future, things will change. The brown, ethnic people will have a hard time with these changes. Presumably, the white people will just be getting along in some other corner of the setting because they have a modern, rationalistic world view that wil make it easier for them to adapt. But the brown people, what are they going to do? They struggle and they strive, and they manage to re-enact a version of their quaint ethnic rituals despite the extremity of their times. Victory?

I understand your complaints, but right now, in 2012, brown people are getting hit harder by droughts and global warming than white people, for many reasons.  I found it realistic that India would get hit very hard by an extended drought, given their very high population, and relatively poor irrigation practices.  I also found the amount of graft, bribery and local corruption to be very real, as that is absolutely a real thing in India right now.

To add to this, a majority of English speakers have a couple hundred years of observing different white groups assimilating into a larger white culture. The racism against, say, the Irish as presented in Tales from the White Street Society by other white groups was quite real. But we've got clear examples of assimilation. I expect in another hundred years the other groups will be more integrated an closer to each other, but we're not quite there yet.

Food's an interesting thing to consider as part of this. Food based on Chinese principles has slowly worked into the American culture, and in such a fashion, that it has pulled both closer to the other. Things like Chow Mein and Chop Suey started with American flavors and integrated some unusual textures. Then things like General Tso's went the next step to make flavors a little more eastern, while still being within the comfort zone of most Americans. Americanized Chinese food is neither Chinese nor American, yet both at the same time.

I totally agree with both of you, which is confusing because you seem to disagree with me. I agree that less wealthy nations - and that does mean mostly brownish-colored folks - will be hit harder by droughts and global warming. The picture of an India that's hit so hard by the future presented in this story is entirely realistic.

What bugged me was the cultural angle. The assumption that the brown people will have a harder time with the future not because of how bad the future is going to be for their farms, families, bank accounts, and livelihoods, but because of how hard it's going to be fur their cultures to adapt. The problem is that it reduces "not white" to "has a weird-ass maladaptive culture that they'll have to get over," and that's a pretty insulting assumption.

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Gamercow

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Reply #25 on: October 17, 2012, 11:43:17 PM
What bugged me was the cultural angle. The assumption that the brown people will have a harder time with the future not because of how bad the future is going to be for their farms, families, bank accounts, and livelihoods, but because of how hard it's going to be fur their cultures to adapt. The problem is that it reduces "not white" to "has a weird-ass maladaptive culture that they'll have to get over," and that's a pretty insulting assumption.

I see what you're getting at now.  And I think that Indians will be okay, really, because they are insanely adaptable and at the same time, are able to hold on to traditions, sometimes very arbitrarily.  Indians, from my experience, do not perturb easily. 

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


Umbrageofsnow

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Reply #26 on: October 28, 2012, 09:09:36 PM
I'm amazed at the amount of hate I saw for this story in the first half of this thread. For me it was a solid B+ kind of story. It didn't blow me away, but it was better than plenty of other stories, even on our beloved Escape Pod. I'll take this sort of "boring" story over "Next Time, Scales" and the like any day.

My own brother died a couple years ago and the need to just run off and have some insane quest for her sister's memory seemed very real. I read this one when it was in Asimov's but I'm glad I listened to it here, those last lines hit me much harder in audio than they do in print. I love the protagonist's finding a purpose for her life that is different from her sister's, but informed by it. Perhaps it wasn't as obvious as it could have been at a longer length, but the trip around water-starved India provided a much needed catharsis for the protagonist. She learned to cope with her sister's death and decided upon the path that the rest of her life will presumably take. I don't see how that is boring at all, and with all the haunting descriptions of the landscape, I'm not sure what there was to hate so much.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2012, 09:11:29 PM by Umbrageofsnow »



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Reply #27 on: October 31, 2012, 04:34:30 PM
I thought this was a decent story well written, thinking about the issue of long-time traditions meet future climate change.  I agree that there weren't really any substantive obstacles in her path, and I never had any doubt that she would get what she was aiming for, and I wondered why she didn't just head to the ocean to begin with.  But it felt like an authentic human story, and I cared about her goal even if I didn't worry that she wouldn't reach it.

What bugged me was the cultural angle. The assumption that the brown people will have a harder time with the future not because of how bad the future is going to be for their farms, families, bank accounts, and livelihoods, but because of how hard it's going to be fur their cultures to adapt. The problem is that it reduces "not white" to "has a weird-ass maladaptive culture that they'll have to get over," and that's a pretty insulting assumption.

I didn't see that as being aimed at brown people, but was a contemplation of what a culture with many longlasting social or religious traditions.  In that way it reminded me of a problem raised in another story where Jewish space colonists were widespread, and it was much more complicated to figure out how to face towards Israel when you're not in a fixed location to Israel, where even if you can see Sol to look toward that because light takes time to travel you won't see the star where it is right now, etc.



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Reply #28 on: October 31, 2012, 04:47:45 PM
By the way, does anyone else find it a little strange to post "spoiler alert" in a story feedback thread (as several in this thread had)?  Feedback is meant to be a discussion about the story after you've listened (it would be pretty hard to give feedback before you listened, yes?  Maybe that would be feedforward?)  If you don't want this story to be spoiled for you, then you're in the wrong place--go listen to the story and then come back!   :)




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Reply #29 on: October 31, 2012, 05:40:13 PM
As far as forum policy is concerned, spoilers are fair game in the episode threads, and don't need to be signposted. But I'm not going to begrudge anyone who feels like their posts are extra-spoilery or otherwise feel like alerting others to spoilers.



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Reply #30 on: October 31, 2012, 06:03:15 PM
As far as forum policy is concerned, spoilers are fair game in the episode threads, and don't need to be signposted. But I'm not going to begrudge anyone who feels like their posts are extra-spoilery or otherwise feel like alerting others to spoilers.

Fair enough.  I'm not saying that spoiler-alerts should be discouraged, I just thought it interesting.



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Reply #31 on: October 31, 2012, 07:28:44 PM
There's a thing that I see a lot in speculative fiction these days - there have been other examples here on Escape Pod, but I can't be bothered to find them right now - and it's starting to aggravate me. This story was a good example. Here is how this thing goes:

In the future, things will change. The brown, ethnic people will have a hard time with these changes. Presumably, the white people will just be getting along in some other corner of the setting because they have a modern, rationalistic world view that wil make it easier for them to adapt. But the brown people, what are they going to do? They struggle and they strive, and they manage to re-enact a version of their quaint ethnic rituals despite the extremity of their times. Victory?

I understand your complaints, but right now, in 2012, brown people are getting hit harder by droughts and global warming than white people, for many reasons.  I found it realistic that India would get hit very hard by an extended drought, given their very high population, and relatively poor irrigation practices.  I also found the amount of graft, bribery and local corruption to be very real, as that is absolutely a real thing in India right now.

To add to this, a majority of English speakers have a couple hundred years of observing different white groups assimilating into a larger white culture. The racism against, say, the Irish as presented in Tales from the White Street Society by other white groups was quite real. But we've got clear examples of assimilation. I expect in another hundred years the other groups will be more integrated an closer to each other, but we're not quite there yet.

Food's an interesting thing to consider as part of this. Food based on Chinese principles has slowly worked into the American culture, and in such a fashion, that it has pulled both closer to the other. Things like Chow Mein and Chop Suey started with American flavors and integrated some unusual textures. Then things like General Tso's went the next step to make flavors a little more eastern, while still being within the comfort zone of most Americans. Americanized Chinese food is neither Chinese nor American, yet both at the same time.

I totally agree with both of you, which is confusing because you seem to disagree with me. I agree that less wealthy nations - and that does mean mostly brownish-colored folks - will be hit harder by droughts and global warming. The picture of an India that's hit so hard by the future presented in this story is entirely realistic.

What bugged me was the cultural angle. The assumption that the brown people will have a harder time with the future not because of how bad the future is going to be for their farms, families, bank accounts, and livelihoods, but because of how hard it's going to be fur their cultures to adapt. The problem is that it reduces "not white" to "has a weird-ass maladaptive culture that they'll have to get over," and that's a pretty insulting assumption.

I'm not disagreeing with you, but I'm not necessarily agreeing either. I haven't seen enough of this fiction of which you speak to have an informed opinion on that. I will, however, echo Gamercow's statement about the resilience and adapability of folks from the general vicinity of India.

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


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Reply #32 on: November 02, 2012, 05:20:52 PM
I didn't see that as being aimed at brown people, but was a contemplation of what a culture with many longlasting social or religious traditions.  In that way it reminded me of a problem raised in another story where Jewish space colonists were widespread, and it was much more complicated to figure out how to face towards Israel when you're not in a fixed location to Israel, where even if you can see Sol to look toward that because light takes time to travel you won't see the star where it is right now, etc.

Ah, I couldn't figure out where I'd heard that story before, it was "Rabbi Aaron Meets Satan" in Escape Pod 326 I think http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=5871.0



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Reply #33 on: December 13, 2012, 08:52:47 AM
This was one of these stories that felt more of a slice-of-life than something which was going anywhere spectacular. I am good with those kind of stories, but they put a lot of demands on the authors ability to create authentic characters and environments. Clare manages this good enough for me to enjoy it, but not much more. 

What bugged me was the cultural angle. The assumption that the brown people will have a harder time with the future not because of how bad the future is going to be for their farms, families, bank accounts, and livelihoods, but because of how hard it's going to be fur their cultures to adapt. The problem is that it reduces "not white" to "has a weird-ass maladaptive culture that they'll have to get over," and that's a pretty insulting assumption.

Woah! Isn't this projecting a whole lot into this story ? Seems to me that those assumptions are more yours than the authors. First of all, where in this story did you pick up the idea that 'white people' were doing much better ? Or that the culture was somehow a problem ? I didn't get any of those things at all. In fact, the only cultural signifier seems to be her wish to let her sisters ashes be spread into water - and that was important not just for cultural reasons but also because the sister had dedicated her life to the water.



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Reply #34 on: March 23, 2013, 03:12:26 AM
This story feels particularly apt following my reading "Visit Sunny Chernobyl" which included a chapter on the polluted and diverted rivers in India. Dry riverbeds are already a thing depending where you are along even the holy rivers it would seem, as well the pollution from so many people using the river's in so many ways. This story pushes things in an interesting direction where through effort they have cleaned the rivers and then limited access along with droughts. In a place where river's can be holy that would be a problem for people still following tradition, though it appears that only the the daughter really felt strong enough to go on her "adventure" over it.  I see what people mean that none of the things were really difficult, but her real foe was the changes in the rivers, the way even the land was receding from tradition, more than any people in this example. I do enjoy it when different traditions intersect with stories here as all too often the stuff I see elsewhere is all the white-folk stuff as it were.