Escape Artists
August 29, 2014, 01:03:44 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2  All
  Print  
Author Topic: EP364: Techno-Rat  (Read 4504 times)
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4567



« on: October 04, 2012, 05:09:49 PM »

EP364: Techno-Rat

By Brad Hafford

Read by Al Stuart

Originally appeared in Reflection’s Edge, 2010

---

West London was, as always, abuzz. Even at 4:00 AM on a chilly November Tuesday, electric motorcars whirred down Kings Road, zipping people along, early to work or late from parties. The residential side streets, however, were quiet. Lined with parked cars, occasional street lamps, and darkened flats, they dozed peacefully. Ornate houses huddled in gracefully curving queues, awaiting the sunrise with little attention to the two figures loitering outside their narrow, iron-fenced entryways.

“There it is, innit?” the scrawnier figure said, pointing to a parked car. “D’ya see?”

The taller man stared intently at the vehicle. “See what?” he said, his breath misting in the frosty air.

Their eyes were fixed on a car sitting at the curb of a constricted street in Chelsea, part of the fashionable Kensington district. It was a brown cabriolet with a weather-worn faux leather top. An aging example, its low-light number plates showed it to be registered ten years previously. Its MOT and inspection were up to date, but its bonnet was dented and its windscreen cracked. Such an automobile did not belong in Chelsea. But neither did the two men examining it.

The smaller of the two impatiently tugged on the grey flatcap he wore. “Pay attention, Mik,” he sniped. “We in’t got all night.” Clipped words and rounded vowels marked his speech. The bells of St. Mary’s were ancient history and the East End had long since been gentrified, but he was retro-Cockney.

“I’m paying as much attention as I’ve got, Artie. More, really. I just don’t see it.”

“It’s a slight vibration, see. An ’ologram shift called glitching. The generator keeps the image dynamic, right. So it has to refresh at a specific rate.” He tapped his nose, a signal that he was imparting secrets. “Oy, there it goes again!”

“I still don’t see it.”

“And you fink you got what it takes to be a Techno-Rat?”


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
Logged
chemistryguy
Matross
****
Posts: 261


Serving the Detroit Metro area since 1970


WWW
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2012, 06:21:18 AM »

Alasdair, your voice brought the perfect flavor to this story, but crikey I had a difficult time following along.  Surprisingly it wasn't the cockney accent I had problems with, but I missed a lot of the details during the narrative portions.  My brain just couldn't keep up.

The story itself was a great classic tale between those who live outside the law and those who uphold it.  Technology advances, criminals will always find a way around these new securities, and in the end either side will fail due to simple human foibles.

I had to figure the car thieves would get caught, but I failed to foresee how the noob was behind the sting.

<Like Button>
Logged

Listener
Hipparch
******
Posts: 3165


I place things in locations which later elude me.


WWW
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2012, 07:23:03 AM »

I saw Mick being a cop pretty much within the first 10 minutes.

The story was really creative in setting a scene and use of technology, but the plot didn't hold up for me, unfortunately. It was too straightforward and the twist... wasn't.

Could I request that Alasdair's narrations get a little more normalization/limiting? There were parts where his natural delivery grew too quiet for me to hear without fiddling with the volume knob.
Logged

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42
Cutter McKay
Hipparch
******
Posts: 881


"I was the turkey the whoooole time!"


WWW
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2012, 02:13:42 PM »

I love this one. As I've said before, I'm a sucker for the British accent, especially when a couple of thick accented thugs bicker. Makes me smile every time. The technology of this story was interesting and the heist engaging. Love a good heist tale.

Alasdair's reading was fantastic, if a bit hard to follow at times. Usually, in situations like this, I just chalk it up to my ignorance of British slang and move on with the story.

The reveal at the end may not have been entirely surprising, but the way Mik threw Artie's jabs at the police right back in his face was priceless. Great story.
Logged

-Josh Morrey-
http://joshmorreywriting.blogspot.com/
"Remember: You have not yet written your best work." -Tracy Hickman
InfiniteMonkey
Lochage
*****
Posts: 442


Clearly, I need more typewriters....


« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2012, 04:07:45 PM »

This was a lot of fun, and it was extra fun with the authenticity of Alasdair reading it, Though I'm not sure if he is actually Cockney, it was great to hear the native sound of Cockney rhyming slang, and the terms "berk", "prat", and "tosser" in the native tongue. I'll cop to being blind about Mick. Hell, I thought halfway through they'd jacked James Bond's car and he was coming to kick their asses.

(understanding wasn't too hard. Too much BBC as a small child)

The author clearly has a good eye for car design.
Logged
SF.Fangirl
Peltast
***
Posts: 137


« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2012, 06:05:51 PM »

I, too, had trouble understanding the words.  I'm not sure if I can blame the unfamiliar accent.  I was thinking to ask for some more articulation myself.  Because of this, I didn't get all the details of the story, but that didn't seem entirely necessary.

At first I though how clever to use the new guy as a reason for all the exposition, but unfortunately the story never seemed to develop beyond a "this is how a techno-rat steals a super-high tech car."  It was all talk about what was happening and about to happen with no conflict which never particularly engaged me.  There wasn't even a high speed chase!  The twist did surprise me, and I thought the way the cop turned around the words thief's was neat, but it couldn't make up for 25 minutes of exposition.
Logged
Schrodingrr
Palmer
**
Posts: 75



« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2012, 10:45:44 PM »

--I love Alasdair's commentary in the Pseudopod bumpers, but I have to admit that I wince when I hear that he will be narrating a story. Al, I love you, man, but you need to slow down when you do a straight reading.
As for the story, it had enough going on to keep me engaged, although I thought the security-tech on the cars was a bit over the top. Still fun, though, and I too was completely suckered by the reveal at the end. Good times!
Logged
CompiledTom
Extern
*
Posts: 9


« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2012, 10:23:15 AM »

This may be the first EP that I had to turn off simply because listening was too much work. I literally could not understand the narrator with the combination of his accent and his bad microphone.

If any of these problems hadn't been there, I am sure I would have enjoyed the story, but I just couldn't listen to it successfully.

What I don't get is why so many narrators are still using such horrible microphones. A decent studio quality Michael can be had for a c-note today, less than what EP pays out to its authors.

Perhaps we should take up a collection to get some hardware for the narrators, since the quality of the narration is at least as important as the writing.

Logged
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4567



« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2012, 10:59:11 AM »

No one at Escape Pod, least of all Alasdair, is interested in producing anything but top-quality readings of stories. However, relying on unpaid volunteers as narrators means that sometimes things don't go as planned, people might have to record away from their normal equipment, and sometimes compromises need to be made in order to get the episode out on time.

I'm not saying that pointing out that you had a difficult time with the recording is not valid criticism - it is - but sometimes the alternative is not to have an episode at all.
Logged
Bdoomed
Pseudopod Tiger
Moderator
*****
Posts: 3872


Mmm. Tiger.


WWW
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2012, 12:28:19 PM »

Perhaps it is less the fault of the recording microphone and more the fault of the listening equipment? I'm listening to the story right now and don't understand any of the complaints about Alasdair's reading. I have a nice pair of headphones that deliver really nice levels. I know that some stories don't work so well in my car (Pseudopod's Our Drunken Tjeng was absolutely impossible to listen to in my car), but headphones deliver a wholly different listening experience. Try playing with your levels. Lower trebble, higher bass.
Beats me, but I'm having no troubles with the reading. Anyway, diving back into the story!
Logged

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?
Musings and Ramblings
MokalusOfBorg
Palmer
**
Posts: 24



WWW
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2012, 10:13:52 PM »

Somehow I managed to miss the point that the newbie was running the sting and came out with the impression that the expert was the copper, which made the ending very weird for me. It makes a lot more sense now that I read the comments.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have trouble with names in fiction as a matter of course, though.
PPS - I usually get through an entire season of TV before any one character's name sticks in my memory.
Logged

Tomato is a fruit, watermelon is a berry, banana is a herb and everything you know is wrong.
Mokalus of Blog
tpi
Peltast
***
Posts: 86


« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2012, 03:42:13 AM »

The reading was too fast and too hard to understand. I gave up after 10 minutes.
Logged

desertheat
Extern
*
Posts: 1


« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2012, 03:36:54 PM »

I too had to give this one the ol' heave ho.  I find that I can get with the thickest English accents with a little time, but I found that the reader's articulation was poor and too fast. It sure sounded like an interesting story, but I simply got too frustrated to keep on keeping on. 
Logged
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4567



« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2012, 04:02:37 PM »

So - it's clear some people find the reading difficult enough that they skipped the story. Now that that's been established, and the EP staff are aware of the issue (which I can say for a fact they are) there's no need for everyone who's in that position to rehash it.

So please, from this point on, no more posts about how you didn't listen to the episode. It's ok to comment on the audio quality, but only if you've listened to the episode from beginning to end.

Thank you.
Logged
Bdoomed
Pseudopod Tiger
Moderator
*****
Posts: 3872


Mmm. Tiger.


WWW
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2012, 08:38:38 PM »

I'm unsure what to think of this story. On one hand, it was good, clean fun. A nice little slice of this world, and a cool story about a crime bust.

On the other hand, there was barely any conflict. The entire heist went off without a hitch. These monumental security systems in place are easily overcome by this master theif as if they were placed there to show us just how good this guy is. Even given that the cops probably wanted him to "get away with it", there is no way they could have known where/what car he would choose to steal, so the stolen car was most likely not rigged to be stolen. After they actually STEAL the car, the arrest ALSO goes off without a hitch. Everything plays much too nice and clean.

But therein also lies the charm of the story, to pull this comment full circle. It felt like a tv show, where the good guy cop always wins and really never seems to have to try too hard.

And maybe the reading wasn't perfect, but cut the guy some slack, and you can read the whole thing online anyway, either with the audio accompaniment or without.
Logged

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?
Musings and Ramblings
Devoted135
Hipparch
******
Posts: 846



« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2012, 12:14:41 PM »

Overall, this was a fun story with some really cool ideas. I love the idea of cars being able to cloak themselves to look like less valuable cars, but that this would result in a barely detectable mismatch between the apparent and true surface of the car. I don't know why, but that just captivates me.

I do agree that it was a bit too convenient that everything pretty much goes off without a hitch. That said, it really was satisfying to hear Mik throw all of those insults back in Artie's face at the end. Smiley

Btw, I thought the reading was just fine, and really appreciate the effort that Al put into differentiating the various accents.
Logged
CompiledTom
Extern
*
Posts: 9


« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2012, 01:02:31 PM »

But therein also lies the charm of the story, to pull this comment full circle. It felt like a tv show, where the good guy cop always wins and really never seems to have to try too hard.

That's what I liked about a lot of the older TV shows, the plots were a lot more straightforward, and the writers weren't looking for a twist in every episode. On shows like Magnum PI or The A Team, you knew exactly where you stood, and you knew how the show was going to end before you got there. The fun was in hanging out with your friends (who happen to not actually exist, but I digress.)

This is essentially the plot for every police procedural ever, as well: crime happens, good guys find evidence, bad guy gets arrested.

There's definitely room in SF&F for both kinds of stories: formula stories where the fun is in the characters, and stories where the author grabs the reader's emotional guts and doesn't let go until The End.


Logged
benjaminjb
Hipparch
******
Posts: 730



« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2012, 01:31:14 PM »

I enjoyed the voice--both of the writing and of the narrator--but I want a little more out of my short stories: conflict, character growth, suspense, surprise, interesting themes. Right now, "how to steal a car in the future" seems more like a topic for a speculative study of the future (and they do use fiction in those studies), and less like a satisfying story to me.
Logged
CompiledTom
Extern
*
Posts: 9


« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2012, 02:16:56 PM »

I enjoyed the voice--both of the writing and of the narrator--but I want a little more out of my short stories: conflict, character growth, suspense, surprise, interesting themes. Right now, "how to steal a car in the future" seems more like a topic for a speculative study of the future (and they do use fiction in those studies), and less like a satisfying story to me.

You know, I think the best way to describe this is NOT a short story - but a first chapter. More than anything else, it reminds me of the opening teasers on Bond movies. (Remember the one where Bond steals a piece of tech from an illegal arms dealer swap meet, and he has to fly a fighter jet in his business suit?)

This could very easily be an opening vignette for a book titled "London PD: 2044", where our good Inspector must catch an elusive and daring thief who's cutting a swathe through the London elite. The inspector even said at the end that he only goes for the very best. If that's not a setup for a 007 knockoff set in the near future, I don't know what is.

Logged
Gamercow
Hipparch
******
Posts: 648



« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2012, 07:13:03 PM »

This was simply brilliant for me, and quite possibly my favorite episode this year.  Al did an amazing job, and I thought that the subtle differences between Artie's accent, Mik's accent, and Alistair's accent was masterful, and could only be done by someone from England.  I'm a technophile, obviously, or I wouldn't be here.  I'm also an Anglophile, a lover of copper stories, and a gearhead.  So yeah, this story hit every button for me.  I know that there's no real point in putting this here, but here is how I pictured the various characters of the story:
Artie is played by Bill Pertwee

Mik is played by Martin Clunes

First decoy was played by a 1980s Jaguar

Second decoy is a rozzer-grade Astra Diesel

And the TechnoDyne is played by a Bugatti Veyron SuperSport
Logged

The cow says "Mooooooooo"
Pages: [1] 2  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!