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Author Topic: EP372: Flash Collection  (Read 10839 times)

eytanz

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on: November 30, 2012, 09:43:27 AM
EP372: Flash Collection

Read by Mur Lafferty

----

Health Tips for Traveler by David W. Goldman

Echoes of the Bouncing Ball By Paul Celmer

Tornado on Fire by Luc Reid

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!



eytanz

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Reply #1 on: November 30, 2012, 09:46:25 AM
Moderator note - for some reason, the intro by Norm states that these are the winners of the flash contest. They are not; none of these stories were even participants in the contest. I'm not involved with the production of the episodes or the intros, and I don't know what the source of the error is, but as the person who ran the contest, I feel like I should apologise to the contest winners for the confusion.

So, on behalf of the EP forums, I'm genuinely sorry that the wrong stories were identified as the winners on the podcast. The editors have been alerted to this, and I'm sure we'll hear from them about this as well before too long.



treefrog

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Reply #2 on: November 30, 2012, 01:07:53 PM
There are actually such things as tornadoes on fire. Just saying. Google it! Iron Sharks, however... well, I wouldn't want to meet one.



DoWhileNot

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Reply #3 on: November 30, 2012, 01:48:17 PM
Ah, thanks Eytanz - I thought I was going crazy or something.  I really liked these stories - well done, but I didn't remember voting for or even reading these. (I probably would have.)

It made me think that there was a contest that I missed out on... and I've got a great story almost ready for submission.   :)



Thunderscreech

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Reply #4 on: November 30, 2012, 02:39:42 PM
Thank you, eytanz!  As one of the winners I was staring at my stereo in shock.  I haven't heard anything from EA since the contest ended and wasn't too worried until 'Flash Special' with that intro posted.



chemistryguy

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Reply #5 on: November 30, 2012, 03:35:22 PM
I love the ridiculous translation in "Health Tips for Travelers" and especially the "...talkers of stupid..."



Cutter McKay

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Reply #6 on: November 30, 2012, 09:54:22 PM
I thought I was going crazy or something.  I really liked these stories - well done, but I didn't remember voting for or even reading these. (I probably would have.)

It made me think that there was a contest that I missed out on... and I've got a great story almost ready for submission.   :)
This is exactly what I was thinking. I came on the forums just now to see if there was some contest I missed, or if these were the stories from a previous contest or something. Good thing I checked the comments thread first,  ;)

As for the stories, they were okay. The first one, Health Tips for Traveler was fun, if a bit difficult to follow. There's not much of a story there, but it elicited a few chuckles, so it's worth the listen. I loved this part:
After some days from your voyage, many Earther feel a big sad of missing for the lovely world of the Pooquar peoples. This sad may have big heavy of the limbs, paining in abdomen, inside the head strikes, blood-making from here and there, and other such small emotions."
Blood making from here and there. So casual. Hilarious.

The other two were ho-hum, for me. I enjoyed them just fine, but they didn't jump out to me as fantastic stories like the real winners of the forum flash contest did. Still, they could have been worse...

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Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #7 on: December 02, 2012, 12:38:41 PM
Health Tips for Traveler
Being a native English speaker in a country full of non-native English speakers I did not find this difficult to follow at all, I read the excellent and most wonderful translation of the language English by people of the non smart fluently with no of the difficulty whatsoever. So this was fun for me, because I can translate it into real health hazards as it went along.
I just have one question: transdimensional beings with the technology to hop dimensions need to rely on Google Translate for their PR efforts? I want to live in that world.

Echoes of the Bouncing Ball
As soon as the vendor "looked a little familiar" I had my suspicions, and when the narrator bumped into himself as he was leaving the stall I knew where this was going. But I still enjoyed the journey. That last scene was a bit too much IMO. I would have ended with his declaration that he had quit.

Tornado on Fire
Short and to the point. I liked it.

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eytanz

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Reply #8 on: December 02, 2012, 01:08:54 PM
Moderator's note: A new audio file has been uploaded, with a short added announcement by Mur explaining and apologising for the mix up.



Piet

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Reply #9 on: December 03, 2012, 01:22:08 AM
Health Tips For Traveller

Reading between the lines, it would appear that the Pooquar want to infect the Earthers with life forms that will spread the Pooquar to other worlds. This travel brochure is actually bait to lure incubators for alien larvae.

It's not the destination...it's the glory of the ride.


Piet

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Reply #10 on: December 03, 2012, 02:17:56 AM
Echoes of the Bouncing Ball

When Wheeler held the ball in the store, did he actually experience the alternative timeline, or did he simply experience an overwhelming rush of possible memories associated with the alternative timeline? It's hard to imagine a world where children can use a toy to venture out on life-long timelines from which they can eventually return to the point where they acquired the toy. Imagine how the vendor of such a toy is exposed to the possibility of being thrown about by the temporal manipulations of his customers. Given the playful nature of toys, it seems more likely that the functionality of this toy is limited to providing the holder with glimpses into alternative timelines that are amusing for their realism.

It's not the destination...it's the glory of the ride.


chemistryguy

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Reply #11 on: December 03, 2012, 12:14:46 PM
Echoes of the Bouncing Ball

When Wheeler held the ball in the store, did he actually experience the alternative timeline, or did he simply experience an overwhelming rush of possible memories associated with the alternative timeline? It's hard to imagine a world where children can use a toy to venture out on life-long timelines from which they can eventually return to the point where they acquired the toy. Imagine how the vendor of such a toy is exposed to the possibility of being thrown about by the temporal manipulations of his customers. Given the playful nature of toys, it seems more likely that the functionality of this toy is limited to providing the holder with glimpses into alternative timelines that are amusing for their realism.

I chose to think that he was exposed to an alternate reality.  It seemed to be a most valuable decision-making tool.  In the end I'm not sure whether he should have left it as he did or taken it with him.

Note: Maybe he did take it with him?
 


Unblinking

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Reply #12 on: December 03, 2012, 02:56:43 PM
Listened to the "flash contest winners" version, though I'd noticed on the website the note explaining this, so I wasn't too thrown.

"Health Tips for Traveler"--enjoyable.  I've read stories along this line, but the joke never gets old for me.  I've taken some trips to China, and many of the signs that have English writing are along these lines, fun to see it expanded to dangerous alien tech.
"Echoes of the Bouncing Ball"--This was all right.  It seemed a little message heavy for a flash story.  Interesting to contemplate the concept of "The kids grow up so fast" when combined with the parent taking business trips at relativistic speeds so that it is even more so. You leave for 3 weeks and your kid is 3 months older. 
"Tornadoes on Fire"--The body of the story was amusing in a tall tale kind of way.  But it all seemed to be in place to lead to the punchline.  But I didn't get the joke.  So it didn't work for me overall.




Scumpup

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Reply #13 on: December 05, 2012, 02:48:33 PM
"Health Tips for the Traveler" was hilarious.  I think I'd have liked the other two stories better if "Health Tips..." had been played after them.  In the order in which they were played, "Echoes" and "Tornadoes" were kind of a letdown.



Thunderscreech

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Reply #14 on: December 05, 2012, 03:39:12 PM
Agreed, Health Tips was fantastic.  The author did more with X-hundred words than some do with ten thousand.



SF.Fangirl

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Reply #15 on: December 06, 2012, 01:40:09 AM
Hmmm ... in general I'm not a fan of flash fiction and unfortunately there were no exceptions here. 

"Health Tips for Traveler" -- Hard to follow (might have worked better if I read it), but I saw the ending coming a mile away.  Okay, at first I though the aliens were planning to eat the human travellers (references to fat and hydration), but then there must have been some hint because I figured out parasitic infection before the end.  It was so hard to follow that my mind wandered off during the listen, though, and I only barely came back for the ending.

"Echoes of the Bouncing Ball" -- Okay but again not a huge surprise ending.

"Tornado on Fire" -- Silly, not terribly, but totally forgettable.  I could not for the life of me remember the third story until I saw it mentioed again here.  But, OMG, tornados on fire are real; goggle images have pictures!



SF.Fangirl

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Reply #16 on: December 06, 2012, 01:43:22 AM
"Tornadoes on Fire"--The body of the story was amusing in a tall tale kind of way.  But it all seemed to be in place to lead to the punchline.  But I didn't get the joke.  So it didn't work for me overall.

Oh, was there a joke?  If there was one I did not really get it either except mybe the old dude though tornados on fire weren't scary enough to make him quit but iron sharks are.  But that's not really funny.



chemistryguy

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Reply #17 on: December 06, 2012, 12:11:02 PM
"Tornadoes on Fire"--The body of the story was amusing in a tall tale kind of way.  But it all seemed to be in place to lead to the punchline.  But I didn't get the joke.  So it didn't work for me overall.

Oh, was there a joke?  If there was one I did not really get it either except mybe the old dude though tornados on fire weren't scary enough to make him quit but iron sharks are.  But that's not really funny.

You have to have a penchant for the ridiculous to get a chuckle out of this one.  While the guy casually describes his dealing with tornadoes on fire, a concept that goes beyond your ordinary, run-o-the-mill storm chasers you're reminded (or at least I am) of a tall tale. 

Then the story tops it off by going from something with at least some level of plausibility, to the impossible vision of iron sharks swimming within this flaming vortex of death. 

It's just silly, that's all, and explaining it just deflates the joke into a sad, limp puddle :(
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 12:20:20 PM by chemistryguy »



eytanz

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Reply #18 on: December 06, 2012, 12:25:28 PM
I think the joke arises from the juxtoposition of the over-the-top nature of the man's story with the utterly mundane coda. But yeah, explaining it doesn't do it any favours.



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #19 on: December 06, 2012, 12:54:38 PM
Explaining a joke never does work.
But remember kids: a joke is meant to amuse oneself. If others laugh too, that's just a bonus. I'm sure Luc Reid enjoyed that little joke, and that's all that really counts. I laughed, so it was a bonus on that account.

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Devoted135

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Reply #20 on: December 06, 2012, 01:48:49 PM
I listened to the original file so spent the first few minutes of "Health Tips" talking myself down and telling myself to try and simply enjoy these stories for their own merits. After all, it's not their fault that they were in the middle of a mishap. :)

Health Tips for Traveler
I'll join the "loved it" party, and I think that reading it would be even better since I would catch more of the references. It sounded like emails that my boss writes to me at 2am: What that means? What the data says? or my all-time favorite (this one was spoken aloud with much gusto) Molecular biology do happens! :P

Echoes of the Bouncing Ball
I think this was a really good flash story, any more and it would have worn out its welcome. Sure I saw the end coming, but that didn't prevent me from cheering a little anyway.

Tornado on Fire
It's definitely a joke piece and therefore can't possibly be for everyone, but it sure was for me! I think chemistryguy nailed it on the head in that this is a tall tale and I thought it was great!



Unblinking

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Reply #21 on: December 07, 2012, 02:42:09 PM
"Tornadoes on Fire"--The body of the story was amusing in a tall tale kind of way.  But it all seemed to be in place to lead to the punchline.  But I didn't get the joke.  So it didn't work for me overall.

Oh, was there a joke?  If there was one I did not really get it either except mybe the old dude though tornados on fire weren't scary enough to make him quit but iron sharks are.  But that's not really funny.

You have to have a penchant for the ridiculous to get a chuckle out of this one.  While the guy casually describes his dealing with tornadoes on fire, a concept that goes beyond your ordinary, run-o-the-mill storm chasers you're reminded (or at least I am) of a tall tale. 

Then the story tops it off by going from something with at least some level of plausibility, to the impossible vision of iron sharks swimming within this flaming vortex of death. 

It's just silly, that's all, and explaining it just deflates the joke into a sad, limp puddle :(
I think the joke arises from the juxtoposition of the over-the-top nature of the man's story with the utterly mundane coda. But yeah, explaining it doesn't do it any favours.


See I thought it must be a joke simply because of the final line "and that’s why I’m a-here applyin’ for my social security benefits."  I don't get it.  What do iron sharks have to do with social security benefits? 

I was actually digging it up until then because it was an entertaining tall tale.  But if you end a tall tale with a punchline, it doesn't feel like a tall tale anymore.  And if I don't GET the joke, then it doesn't even work as a joke for me.



Cutter McKay

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Reply #22 on: December 07, 2012, 03:59:40 PM
I was actually digging it up until then because it was an entertaining tall tale.  But if you end a tall tale with a punchline, it doesn't feel like a tall tale anymore.  And if I don't GET the joke, then it doesn't even work as a joke for me.

To me, the punchline was that this tall-tale style character is basically entering a mundane retirement on Social Security. It's the juxtaposition of say, Pecos Bill on foodstamps. These folk legends are huge characters that could do absolutely anything, so to picture them in something like a retirement home, or living off of social security checks in a trailer park is anti-climactic. That's what this story meant to me. (And I just realized that's what eytanz said, but I don't feel like deleting all of this. So I'm seconding the opinion.)

That being said, I didn't find the joke funny, I found it disappointing. As we discussed in length during the Flash Contest III a few months ago, flash lends itself well to the "Punchline Story", however, most punchline stories end up being more disappointing than enjoyable because it makes a promise to the reader, then breaks that promise for a cheap laugh.

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zoanon

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Reply #23 on: December 11, 2012, 03:53:34 AM
health tips for traveller:
hilarious? every word was dripping with insidious venom, and I loved it, but I didn't find it funny at all.
 
other two stories:
meh

as I was listening to them I didn't think they were up to par with the usual flash fiction winners, so no surprise to me that they weren't in the contest at all :P



Myrealana

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Reply #24 on: December 11, 2012, 07:21:00 PM
Health Tips for Traveler - Oh my gosh, I loved this story. I thought it was indeed hilarious.

In my job, I email almost exclusively with people who are non-native speakers of English, and I often have to perform mental gymnastics to understand what they're requesting from me - as I'm sure they have to do with some of my responses.

The other two - meh. I was a little lost on the fire tornados one. I'm not sure where it was going, but wherever it was, I'm not sure it ever got there.

"You don't fix faith. Faith fixes you." - Shepherd Book