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Author Topic: EP374: Oubliette  (Read 9373 times)

eytanz

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on: December 14, 2012, 10:08:26 AM
EP374: Oubliette

By J. Kelley Anderson

Read by David Moore

Originally appeared in Ray Gun Revival (2012)
---

The half-buried thing hadn’t moved once, but I didn’t have to include that in the story when I got back to base. The great, gray mass of it rose at least ten feet out of the red earth, tucked close to the sheer wall of the plateau. That part I’d tell. If there had been anything like a head, I would have shot it, but it just looked like a giant, lumpy football, oozing a viscous yellowy liquid here and there.

The non-military personnel tried to remember their instructions, looking away from the muzzle of my rifle as the metallic squeal of the charging weapon warned of an impending discharge. The moment the noise ended, a pencil-thin beam of white light leapt from the gun and bored another sizzling hole into the motionless mound of wrinkled gray flesh. There was a sound like someone cooking giant bacon in a giant skillet.

I just can’t describe how much I love photon rifles. They’re big, noisy, ugly, unapologetic things that leave your hands shaking and the entire area smelling like ozone. They were shit on stealth missions but, then, so am I—that’s just one of the many reasons I got this gig as the Army equivalent of a galactic janitor.

Sergeant Wroblewski and I made eye contact as I turned to address the science team, and I noted the silent “high-five” look on his face.

“Well?” I said smoothly to Science Officer Neely. “Doesn’t get much deader than that.” I tried to look nonchalant.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!



chemistryguy

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Reply #1 on: December 14, 2012, 12:24:02 PM
A being so advanced, the lines between "man" and god are blurred.  And he's a smart-ass.  I liked it.


Listener

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Reply #2 on: December 14, 2012, 01:06:17 PM
This was a nice little story. I wonder what the alien's people were like originally, and how he became what he did.

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Thunderscreech

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Reply #3 on: December 14, 2012, 04:08:12 PM
Is there anything more frightening than losing our being, our consciousness?  The threat of having the structural memories that make us who we are yanked deliberately and with precision scares the bejeebers out of me, more viscerally than any brandished gun.  If I die, I'm gone.  But if parts of who I am are pulled out like Jenga pieces, is what's left really me or is it some sort of shaky abomination?

After all, what are we but a collection of experiences?  To me, that's why Alzheimer's is so terrifying, and despite the light-hearted tone, is why the novel defense mechanism of the critter really connected with me.

Great story, well read too.



chemistryguy

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Reply #4 on: December 14, 2012, 05:03:59 PM
Oh, and I forgot to say goodbye and good luck to you in all future endeavors Mur.  I'm very familiar with having more to do than the time to do it. 


luka datas

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Reply #5 on: December 15, 2012, 04:51:41 AM
it is like a lot of stories on epod which are kind of superficial character studies. the jokes were clean but i couldn't help thinking how much better this story could have been if the author had delved more... into the characters, into the environment they were from and in and into wikipedia for useless facts to let us listeners know that they aren't reading an unresearched first draft.



luka datas

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Reply #6 on: December 15, 2012, 05:02:51 AM
ALSO I'm glad that mur lafferty isn't leaving completely. she and norm sherman give this podcast it's street cred... 'Aliens love oranges' was the first story i listen to and I immediately developed a crush on Mur's voice...



scarcrow

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Reply #7 on: December 15, 2012, 10:55:26 AM
I couldn't help but laugh during this story.  Even after having four holes seared into it the blob just shrugged it off and gave a little warning.  And by little, I mean holy hells did that thing throw them all for a loop.  This is just the type of comedic excitement I've been hoping for in an EscapePod release!  Thanks to everyone at Escape Artists, Inc for publishing this story!



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #8 on: December 17, 2012, 10:06:18 AM
There have been too many episodes in recent memory where the reading spoiled the story for me.
I am very glad to say that this was exactly the inverse. The reading took a pretty good story and elevated it to laugh-out-loud-on-the-bus levels.
Well done.

And I have two things to say to Mur:
1. Get well soon!
2. I hope that you have at least the amount of success you had with EP in everything else you do. I'm glad you were a part of this, glad that you will continue to be a part of this, and a little sad (but understanding) that you have to quit the editorial duties.

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

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Unblinking

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Reply #9 on: December 17, 2012, 02:56:20 PM
Good luck, Mur, with all your endeavors.  You've had a good run as editor here, and I'm glad that you'll be sticking around in other respects.  I'm not particularly surprised, considering all the things that you juggle on a daily basis.  And it was very fun to meet you at WorldCon--definitely one of the highlights, and very surreal because I've listened to your voice for so many hours over the past few years.

I'm sure Alasdair will do a bangup job as interim editor, and I'll be very interested to see who fills the shoes permanently.  Didn't Alasdair fill her role as Pseudopod host when she stepped down some years ago too?  Maybe he'll be the permanent editor, which I certainly wouldn't complain about.  :)

Anyway, to the story.  I quite enjoyed this one, the fun smartass alien romp that Steve Eley would be proud to see running here.  I like how our protagonist can be thought of as a hero for saving humanity by coming up with the idea for how to save us.  I thought it was an interesting twist how the alien let him keep his memory of the exchange but it's never totally clear why--I think that it wanted to be remembered by someone.  And how it messes with him whenever he thinks about telling.  Good stuff!  Both scary and funny in a way that few authors can pull off well.



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #10 on: December 17, 2012, 07:52:44 PM
A fun little story, and I liked the back-and-forth and the resolution, which pretty simple without being stupid.

And good luck Mur! We'll miss you. I look forward to hearing more of Alasdair if only for a while. And get better.



SF.Fangirl

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Reply #11 on: December 18, 2012, 12:50:04 AM
Second winner in a row!  I enjoyed this.  It's a fun little story, certainly not deep, but entertaining.  I'm sure I'll forget it quickly, but it was fun while I was listening.  The reading and reader was perfect for the main character and an all-powerful alien who sounds like the main characters inner voice when it communicates telepathically with him



Devoted135

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Reply #12 on: December 18, 2012, 01:21:43 AM
Oh man, this story was so full of win! To me, it embodied the very spirit of Escape Pod. Aliens! Explosions! Witty sarcasm! ;D

"Uh huh, and I'm guessing you really don't wanna be a sand-eating zombie for the rest of your uncomfortable life."


Also, am I the only one who thought the reader was doing an impression (and I honestly mean this in a good way) of Obama for this reading? :P

Mur, I'm really sad to hear that you are handing over the reins, but I'm sure that you are doing what you need to for yourself and your family. You've done a superb job, and you'll definitely be missed! (and I'm so glad you'll still be around to a lesser extent)



SF.Fangirl

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Reply #13 on: December 18, 2012, 01:29:51 AM
Also, am I the only one who thought the reader was doing an impression (and I honestly mean this in a good way) of Obama for this reading?

Yes.   ;)  Honestly I had the impression of a cowboy - cocky, gun-loving and violent - in the reading.



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #14 on: December 18, 2012, 07:23:02 AM
Also, am I the only one who thought the reader was doing an impression (and I honestly mean this in a good way) of Obama for this reading?

Yes.   ;)  Honestly I had the impression of a cowboy - cocky, gun-loving and violent - in the reading.
Me too. But not so much cowboy but more... gungho soldier who landed a sweet position and was enjoying it.

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timprov

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Reply #15 on: December 18, 2012, 01:21:29 PM
My one word review of this story.  Awesome! 


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Piet

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Reply #16 on: December 19, 2012, 06:28:33 AM
"Ugh. Touché space monster. . .touché."

A grudging acknowledgement from one space monster to another.

What's with the attempted destruction of alien life forms in preparation for establishing a settlement? What happened to the prime directive?

Maybe it was the clever back and forth style of the reading, but the mannerisms of the alien came across a bit like Q.

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


tpi

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Reply #17 on: December 19, 2012, 07:45:44 AM
This was a nice little story. I wonder what the alien's people were like originally, and how he became what he did.

The creature was apparently the last surviving Thrint or "slaver" fron the Know Space Universe who has managed to grow a sense of humor during the milennia.


RestlessWonderer

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Reply #18 on: December 19, 2012, 07:28:14 PM
SPOILER ALERT

Make us "think" there is too much radiation, or make too much radiation . . . inter-species communication can be so difficult sometimes.



Cutter McKay

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Reply #19 on: December 19, 2012, 08:29:47 PM
Add another notch in the win category. This was a fun story full of wit and sarcasm right to the line between corny and awesome. I found myself rolling my eyes at some things, but laughing at the same time. It pushes the boundaries of "too much" but never quite breaches them. Well done.

While I'm sad to see Mur go--she's the only voice of EscapePod I've even known--I'm thrilled at the announcement that Norm Sherman is stepping in. I love Norm's sarcasm and his wit, kind of like this story. So this is a bittersweet parting for me. Good luck in the future, Mur, and welcome aboard, Norm!

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jwbjerk

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Reply #20 on: December 20, 2012, 05:50:06 AM
Anybody see a connection between the title and the story?  I don't, neither connotatively nor denotatively.



chemistryguy

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Reply #21 on: December 20, 2012, 11:39:56 AM
Anybody see a connection between the title and the story?  I don't, neither connotatively nor denotatively.

Oubliette: A form of dungeon which is accessible only from a hatch in a high ceiling - I'll be adding this to my vocabulary along with tonsor.

I don't see a connection either, but that won't stop me from hazarding a guess.

I'll say that by the end of the story, the human protagonist is trapped within his own mind.  He can see a way to escape (tell others what he knows), but the alien has secreted a slippery, psychological ooze that slippery-a-fies his point of egress, damning him forever to share his knowledge with no one.  Forever...alone. 

Touché space monster...touché.


Devoted135

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Reply #22 on: December 20, 2012, 01:25:01 PM
Anybody see a connection between the title and the story?  I don't, neither connotatively nor denotatively.

Oublier (French): verb, meaning "to forget". Pronounced ou-blee-a with a long a sound at the end.



Unblinking

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Reply #23 on: December 20, 2012, 02:48:51 PM
Anybody see a connection between the title and the story?  I don't, neither connotatively nor denotatively.

Oublier (French): verb, meaning "to forget". Pronounced ou-blee-a with a long a sound at the end.

OOooooohhhh, I was wondering too.  I had only used it heard in the context of a dungeon--first heard it in the movie Labyrinth.



Lionman

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Reply #24 on: December 21, 2012, 05:02:25 AM
I thought the story was interesting.  However, the alien is really kinda sadistic, in that he didn't do what the story title suggests, and let him forget.

Failure is an event, not a person.