Author Topic: EP361: Ashes on the Water  (Read 12419 times)

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. 

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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!   :)




eytanz

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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.



Fenrix

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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



hardware

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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.



childoftyranny

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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.