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Author Topic: EP366: Some of Them Closer  (Read 1707 times)
eytanz
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« on: October 20, 2012, 08:52:15 AM »

EP366: Some of Them Closer

By Marissa Lingen

Read by The Word Whore

Originally appeared in Analog (2011)

---

Coming back to Earth was not the immediate shock they expected it to be for me. It was something, certainly, but I’d been catching up on the highlights of the news as it cascaded back to the ship on our relativistic return trip, and I never knew the island where we landed, when we left home twenty of our years ago and a hundred of theirs, so I expected it to look foreign to me, and it did. The sun was a little yellower than on New Landing, the plants friendlier.

But I never thought of myself as an Earther. Even with the new system, hardly any of us do. I thought of myself as from Montreal. Quebecoise. Canadian, even. But Earther? No. I am far more provincial than the colonists whose home I built will ever be.

I flew into the new place instead of Dorval. It looked like Dorval used to. It looked nearly exactly like Dorval used to, and I had a twinge of discomfort. The floors were curiously springy, though, which made me feel like something was different, and that was reassuring. There isn’t an Old Spacers’ Legion or anything like that to meet people like me coming in from off-planet–they did that on the little Brazilian island where we landed–but there was a department for Cultural Integration, meant for people traveling from elsewhere on Earth. They assigned me to a representative of the government, who greeted me in a French whose accent was nearly my own. To my ear it sounded more English, with the round vowels, but even with the new system I thought it might be rude to say that to a Quebecoise.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2012, 09:03:19 PM »

Well, despite the fact that very little actually happened, I found myself enjoying this story. Maybe not the story so much as the casual exploration of this world. It was interesting to see all the changes Mireille had to learn to cope with. Not my favorite episode, or one I'm even likely to recommend to anyone, but captivating enough that I didn't lose interest throughout the ride.
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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2012, 02:35:38 AM »

Not a bad little story but it felt like the science fiction was sort of grafted on or maybe it would be better to say it was an unnecessary elaboration. This story would have worked almost exactly the same with two expats coming home after several years abroad. The SFnal aspects added maybe a microgram more umph but really why bother?
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2012, 05:31:37 AM »

I had something to say immediately after finishing this, but now, several hours later, I can't remember what it was.
I guess the story didn't have that much of an impact on me after all.
Regardless, I enjoyed listening to it.
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CompiledTom
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« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2012, 06:27:38 PM »

Not a bad little story but it felt like the science fiction was sort of grafted on...

I don't know that I agree with that. Yes, I can see how, say, a POW coming back from Vietnam would feel the same sense of isolation, but he wouldn't come to the same conclusion - to go back to the jungle.

The thing is, all Human truths are universal, and any story that makes a good SF story can be told in any setting. Some stories are definitely easier in an SF setting, but the essential elements are about the people, not the backdrop.

Take the carjacking story from a couple of 'casts ago... that story could easily be the opening vignette on Hawaii Five Oh. Or it could be the a Gunsmoke episode... but I like the ideas that the author presented: culture changes around you in really unexpected ways. The culture was alien even to US, and that made me identify with the narrator that much more.

What really has me interested about this story is what the narrator left behind: when she left, did she realize she was going to lose everyone she'd ever known? Did she consider that to her family and friends, she was effectively dead the moment she stepped foot on that ship? My guess is that she was a loner even before leaving Earth, and that coming back and being alone was really nothing new, in that respect.

Which brings me to the inevitable question: if you could go in to space and visit an alien world, knowing that the price was to leave behind everyone you ever knew, would you go?
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El Barto
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« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2012, 07:13:42 PM »

This story felt like a bowl of mashed radishes at the Thanksgiving dinner of life.  After listening to so many fun, exciting, and interesting stories on Escape Pod so it was time to listen to a boring one about relationships that didn't go anywhere.   (Neither the story nor the relationship went anywhere interesting.)

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lisavilisa
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2012, 12:25:04 AM »

   (Neither the story nor the relationship went anywhere interesting.)



I for one relish it when there's a story with two single people that partner up but don't fall in love. It feels rare.
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« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2012, 08:33:11 AM »

   (Neither the story nor the relationship went anywhere interesting.)



I for one relish it when there's a story with two single people that partner up but don't fall in love. It feels rare.

I agree. The stories that engage us the most are ones with emotional involvement. So naturally the majority of our protagonists, in any media, develop some sort of romantic connection with another character. And that's ok. But when a story manages to involve me emotionally, without a romance, I find it refreshing and impressive.

Which I think is why I liked this. As El Barto said, this story didn't really go anywhere. But it was the most interesting path to nowhere I've read in a long time.
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« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2012, 08:34:34 AM »

   (Neither the story nor the relationship went anywhere interesting.)



I for one relish it when there's a story with two single people that partner up but don't fall in love. It feels rare.

I can appreciate that, but I didn't even get the impression that they had become friends.  They did, obviously, but I couldn't feel there was any emotion written into the bond they had together.  Maybe it's because of the circumstances behind their relationship.

Otherwise, the sense of returning to a world that has moved on without you was well done.  I found it humorous the protagonist's great, great, great (niece?) sympathizes with her plight of non-squishy floors when it was a non-issue to her.  I look back to my past, backward self and ask,  "Poor dear, how did you ever manage to get anywhere by looking at a map and writing instructions down on a piece of scrap paper?"
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Bill
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« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2012, 11:06:39 AM »

I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit. I thought the setting of Montreal was perfect in the context of the environment evolving while you haven't. The interchange of the Hungarian waiter and her ruminations of Québécois had become more Anglicized fascinated me. A culture  obsessed with retaining its heritage had progressed in her absence, but she was the one viewed suspiciously as an outsider. Also I really want to find mutton pepperoni now.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 11:32:26 AM by Bill » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2012, 04:01:14 PM »

In but a few week's time I shall be met with my thirty-second revolution around the sun.  Since then, I've witnessed my former adolescent rebel-self turned into a short lived fashion trend, the bands I grew up with being entered into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, the epic raising of global fuel prices, an economic crash, a history making decision in leadership, and the evolution of visual effects.  Hell, it wasn't but about a month or so ago that I was on hand to help a friend celebrate the big three-O, which consisted of alcohol consumption and the enjoyment of the music of our time.

This story gave a very neat sci-fi twist to the idea of "things aren't what they used to be" (or "things ain't what they they used to be" if you're the type that relishes in slang).  I felt the story was a bit slow and dry up until Mireille's meeting with Stephane.  From there on, it gave me a small sense of nostalgia, having remembered driving by places I haven't seen in years with a friend who'd never been there and me explaining what used to be there an age ago or eating a meal with family while enjoying a conversation about a meal we all ate together twenty years ago.  Overall, I really loved this story in a way that I've not enjoyed other EscapePod hosted stories in the past.

It was good to hear The Word Whore's reading voice again!
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2012, 02:49:23 AM »

Haha. TWW reading French. I didn't think I'd ever hear that!

Anyway... interesting story. It was a nice glimpse into a plausible future. My only gripe concerns the continued existence of buildings that she recognized.  For SO many things to be SO similar after 100 years just seems a bit hard to believe to me.  Sure, there are many old buildings, but for the same shop or restaurant to still exist after 100 years? I don't know about that... Especially with the advent of new technologies/shifting cultural ideals/food preferences. Shrug. I won't really try to argue that point at all, but it just seemed a bit stretched.

Conversely, I loved the notion that everyone around her thought her French to be odd. It was a very nice touch.

All in all, I enjoyed it, and always love hearing TWW read. Even if it is French Tongue
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« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2012, 08:30:58 AM »

I enjoyed listening to the story. I don't mind that nothing much happened. I don't think I'm going to put it on any best-of lists, but it was a good episode.

As someone who's always having trouble with titles, had I written this story I would've called it "The Toymakers of Boogerbreath Five". I bet an editor would pick THAT up and read it on title alone. If I was an editor, I certainly would have.
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« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2012, 09:46:13 AM »

As someone who's always having trouble with titles, had I written this story I would've called it "The Toymakers of Boogerbreath Five".

I'd give a read.
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Kaa
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« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2012, 10:30:17 AM »

I hate to be one of those "me, too" posters, but...yeah, everyone's summed it up pretty well. I enjoyed TWW's reading and the Stranger in a Strange Land...well, strangeness that Marielle felt. I especially liked that Ms. Lingen didn't feel the need to overexplain everything, such as why pears were so in vogue, or why all beef was now African. She introduced it and then let it be, as she should have. It made the story that much more interesting.

And the ending, though inevitable, was nice. It was a nice, comfortable story.
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merian
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« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2012, 01:36:07 PM »

Chiming in with more of the same, this was a very enjoyable, skillfully crafted story. The attention to detail in particular adds layers of meaning, and if the story is one of those where a SF setting illuminates an everyday earth situation, all the better, in my book.
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Thunderscreech
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« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2012, 01:39:59 PM »

I interpreted this as a civilian equivalent to Joe Haldeman's 'The Forever War', itself a parable for veterans returning to a society that has, as far as they can tell, changed in strange ways that combine the known and the new.  It's the Uncanny Valley as applied to existence.
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WalkinPneumonia
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« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2012, 08:35:14 PM »

I really enjoyed this one.  I also appreciated that the author realizes that not every relationship has to be a romantic one, and that there is room for people to just be friends.
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« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2012, 09:15:31 AM »

I'd put this under the category of good story well told.  I've seen the themes elsewhere, but they were handled better here than in the examples that come to mind.  I like all of the small changes that culture has seen over the time, particularly about how her older accent sounds foreign to the locals.

I want the squishy floors.  There's an area at the Minnesota Zoo by the grizzly bears that has squishy floors.  I like to walk on it.

The Word Whore was extremely well suited for this story.  She has a very comfortable measured pace that doesn't necessarily work well for action packed stories, but for a contemplative interesting story like this it works very well.
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« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2012, 09:23:00 AM »

I want the squishy floors.  There's an area at the Minnesota Zoo by the grizzly bears that has squishy floors.  I like to walk on it.
They started installing squishy floors in playgrounds here. So when kids fall, they bounce. Not like in my day when we'd fall we'd have to pick wood chips out of our clothes. And hands.
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