Escape Artists
July 24, 2014, 12:01:50 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3  All
  Print  
Author Topic: EP379: Concussion  (Read 2110 times)
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4519



« on: January 18, 2013, 06:21:35 AM »

EP379: Concussion

By David Glen Larson

Read by Mat Weller

--

He scrambled from the fire that was snaking through the corridor when another explosion jolted the ship, and just like that he was dead again. A moment later he was someone else, gazing down with another’s eyes at the mangled green body he’d left behind.

Never before had Tyler experienced such terror. Sure, he’d been afraid—afraid his knee would give out again, sidelining him for the big game; afraid he’d let down his teammates and make a fool of himself—but he’d never been terrified of being incinerated in an alien system countless light-years from the home world he was forced to flee. Not until now.

Staring up at the night sky, the stars were dim under the glare of the stadium lights. Which star was theirs? He caught himself and shook his aching head. It was only a dream, after all. The frog people weren’t real.

The doctor shined a penlight into each pupil. “Any headache, nausea, or dizziness?”

“What do you think? I was just hit by a freight train.” Good old Number 32—the biggest, meanest linebacker in the NFL.

“You may have a concussion.”


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
Logged
matweller
EA Staff
*****
Posts: 519



WWW
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2013, 12:03:26 PM »

I really like this story, but I'm a little confused about how the ship had no way to slow down or steer but the people aboard were going to survive.
Logged
InfiniteMonkey
Lochage
*****
Posts: 422


Clearly, I need more typewriters....


« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2013, 05:10:51 PM »

I like the fact that I had no idea where this story was going... or more accurately, that I didn't understand what was happening. I figured it was a mess of VR overlapping in some poor bastard's skull. I was surprised when the two threads connected and it was explained.


The language mix-up "spoke" to me, because that's often how I speak when trying to speak a language other than English. Now, I neither wish to brag or claim some rare mental condition, but I've studied Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish, but when I try to speak any of them (badly, usually), if I'm not careful they all come out together. And usually using the correct vocabulary, just not staying in one language.
Logged
Scumpup
Peltast
***
Posts: 102


...


« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2013, 05:24:55 PM »

I played high school football and did some boxing and martial arts.  Those shots to the head add up.  I have no trouble reading the whole story as just a product of the main character's cumulative brain damage.  Do people who are naturally creative have better brain damage-induced hallucinations and delusions than people who are more mundane?
Logged
statisticus
Palmer
**
Posts: 25



« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2013, 03:23:38 AM »

Took me a while to work out what was happening with this one, but I liked this story.  Effectively written, if a little grim.

Interestingly, this story is almost the same in plot as Arthur C Clarke's 1954 short story, "No Morning After".  In each case aliens are attempting to warn those on Earth about imminent disaster so that can escape from it, in each case the only individual who could be contacted was one whose mind was not 100% (here because of concussion, in Clarke's story because he was drunk), and in each case the disaster is not averted. 
Logged

I am a Statistician.  One false move and you're a Statistic.
statisticus
Palmer
**
Posts: 25



« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2013, 03:24:51 AM »

I really like this story, but I'm a little confused about how the ship had no way to slow down or steer but the people aboard were going to survive.

Who says the people on board were going to survive?  I didn't get that.  

Perhaps they have some sort of crash-proof escape pods?


Logged

I am a Statistician.  One false move and you're a Statistic.
Scattercat
Caution:
Editor
*****
Posts: 4157


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2013, 03:44:31 AM »

The last line on the aliens' side is something to the effect of "All power to the forward shields."  I assume these mysterious magi-tech "shields" are what will keep the crash from being completely fatal, if that is in fact the case.  (Speaking personally, I wouldn't take the beliefs of a double-concussed third-string quarterback as particularly solid.)
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
benjaminjb
Hipparch
******
Posts: 688



« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2013, 11:10:39 AM »

I may have missed something here, so just to be clear (and assuming the truth of what he reports): could the aliens telepathically contact him because of his concussion or for some other reason? (I mean, was there anyone else for them to contact or is he special somehow besides getting his head knocked around?)
Logged
matweller
EA Staff
*****
Posts: 519



WWW
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2013, 09:43:13 PM »

I may have missed something here, so just to be clear (and assuming the truth of what he reports): could the aliens telepathically contact him because of his concussion or for some other reason? (I mean, was there anyone else for them to contact or is he special somehow besides getting his head knocked around?)
I gathered that the concussion opened him up to it, but he was uniquely qualified because he was in the middle of the crash zone.

I really like this story, but I'm a little confused about how the ship had no way to slow down or steer but the people aboard were going to survive.

Who says the people on board were going to survive?  I didn't get that. 

Perhaps they have some sort of crash-proof escape pods?




Well, the last line of the story is "...but Una, at least, would be safe."
Logged
flashedarling
Palmer
**
Posts: 21


« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2013, 12:19:04 PM »

I liked it. Particularly because it subverted the trope of "Doomed alien race imparts a philosophical or ethical lesson to mankind to not repeat their mistakes". Nope. The message they were trying to impart was immediate and tangible. "Get out of our way!!"

Logged
Max e^{i pi}
Hipparch
******
Posts: 873


Have towel, will travel.


« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2013, 03:51:09 PM »

I dunno what it was, but I sort of knew that the aliens were going to crash into Earth. I thought that they were trying to make their case to the humans "look, we're the victims here" with absolutely no regard to screwing this quarterback's life. But I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out that the aliens' motives were pure, they would survive the crash, and were trying to make as many humans survive as well.

That put a new light on things.
When a war is going on, it is nearly impossible to tell who the victim is. The truth of the matter is, both sides are victims. So when it gradually became apparent that the aliens were fleeing a war, I didn't have too much sympathy for them, after all, we only heard their side of the story. But at the very end, when it was clear that with his ship falling to pieces around him, his charges being killed by the thousands, and no hope left, the captain has one purpose in mind: warn the innocents. Try and save as many people as possible.
Maybe their side was the aggressor, maybe their side was the victim of a first strike. It doesn't matter. This ship of people have good intentions, and that lends hope to their continued existence.
Logged

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!

Wilson Fowlie
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1422



WWW
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2013, 12:06:57 PM »

I have to admit, I was rather disappointed in the ending of the story. As I'm not a writer, I'm not entirely certain what kind of ending would have satisfied me better, but that wasn't it.

(For one thing, I can't make myself forget the fact that unless the ship was deliberately aimed directly at us - by which I mean, precise calculations done, light years away and years ago, as to where Earth would be at a particular time - the odds of an alien ship accidentally crashing on Earth are (literally  Grin ) astronomically slim. Unless the ship was emerging from some kind of magi-tech* hyperspace hole immediately above the surface and on a vector for - say - Miami, the odds are just too great to believe.)

Until the end, I did enjoy the story. I liked the glimpses Tyler had into the various aspects of the 'frog people's' society. I also appreciated - in a wry, ironic way - the commentary on the despicable disregard for human safety too many sports professionals have in the service of winning a game.

However, what impressed me the most was the production. A few episodes ago (#376: Shutdown), there was a discussion - that was forked off into its own thread about the difficulty for listeners to keep track of scene changes (in that case, time flashbacks, but it would apply just as much to the changes of setting in this story).

So I was impressed with the background sounds that Mat used here: the white noise of the crowd in the stadium, and the weird alien techno-sounds on the ship, and, in places where Tyler was not quite sure where he was, both! As someone who has added sounds and effects to narrations, I know that it's a lot of work to do - far more than you might imagine. Mat did it all - from choosing sounds, to getting the levels right, to fading them in and out of each other - impressively well. (What marks it as particularly impressive is that most people didn't notice it enough to have said anything about it up to this point.)

I don't know if he did it as a result of that other conversation or if it was something he already wanted to do with this story anyway, but it stands as an excellent model for the kind of thing that can be done to enhance the listening experience.



*Thanks for that term, Scattercat!
Logged

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham
matweller
EA Staff
*****
Posts: 519



WWW
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2013, 01:20:53 PM »

So I was impressed with the background sounds that Mat used here: the white noise of the crowd in the stadium, and the weird alien techno-sounds on the ship, and, in places where Tyler was not quite sure where he was, both! As someone who has added sounds and effects to narrations, I know that it's a lot of work to do - far more than you might imagine. Mat did it all - from choosing sounds, to getting the levels right, to fading them in and out of each other - impressively well. (What marks it as particularly impressive is that most people didn't notice it enough to have said anything about it up to this point.)

I don't know if he did it as a result of that other conversation or if it was something he already wanted to do with this story anyway, but it stands as an excellent model for the kind of thing that can be done to enhance the listening experience.

You don't have to be impressed, I'd settle for it just not taking away from the experience.

It was an attempt at improving the understanding of scene changes based on the conversation you referenced and many before it. I was a little apprehensive and didn't want to take away from the story itself, but like you said, I have been extremely relieved that nobody has complained about it before now. Someone will, and I can deal with that when it comes, but the lack of comment to this point makes me confident that we can do these kinds of things when necessary without harming the experience, so I appreciate your comments.

By the way, I would be remiss if I didn't thank the folks at FreeSound.org for their help with the sounds (which reminds me that I need to update the posting of the episode to thank the people responsible for the sounds I used, which I will do right now Wink )
Logged
Wilson Fowlie
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1422



WWW
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2013, 02:04:34 PM »

So I was impressed ...

You don't have to be impressed, I'd settle for it just not taking away from the experience.

If I didn't know the work that went into it, I might not be as impressed, because it was good enough that it seemed (to me) to be perfectly natural and fitted to the story. As it is, I do know, and I'm glad you give me the choice, because I am impressed whether I have to be or not. Wink

As to not taking away from the experience, I didn't even notice the changes the first few times they occurred, and - based on comments I've read - I think I tend to be more attuned to the audio experience than average. (Unless the reading or sound quality is terrible, most people focus more on the story than the audio, which is how it should be. I'm atypical in being about equal; I can't help myself from judging the readings just as much as the stories, though I rarely say anything about them.)
Logged

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham
Max e^{i pi}
Hipparch
******
Posts: 873


Have towel, will travel.


« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2013, 03:58:50 PM »

(For one thing, I can't make myself forget the fact that unless the ship was deliberately aimed directly at us - by which I mean, precise calculations done, light years away and years ago, as to where Earth would be at a particular time - the odds of an alien ship accidentally crashing on Earth are (literally  Grin ) astronomically slim. Unless the ship was emerging from some kind of magi-tech* hyperspace hole immediately above the surface and on a vector for - say - Miami, the odds are just too great to believe.)

Or they were traveling along in hyperspace and got thrown out or tried to escape from their pursers.
They could have tried to make for the nearest habitable planet, they could have been blown into a crash vector with Miami from the missiles.
Or a combination of those.
Chased through hyperspace they try a surprise maneuver to lose their pursuers. They see a habitable planet approaching (hey, it's magi-tech) and decide to jump out of hyperspace. Their pursuers follow them out of hyperspace, and launch missiles. The impacts from missiles and ensuing explosions screw up the frogmen's approach vector, and prevent them from fixing it and so they crash into Miami.
Also, remember, Earth is at the far edge of the sparsely populated and unfashionable western arm of the galaxy. Or as Una put i t"the edge of the universe". They could have been trying to come here on purpose, to get away from it all.

So I was impressed with the background sounds that Mat used here: the white noise of the crowd in the stadium, and the weird alien techno-sounds on the ship, and, in places where Tyler was not quite sure where he was, both! As someone who has added sounds and effects to narrations, I know that it's a lot of work to do - far more than you might imagine. Mat did it all - from choosing sounds, to getting the levels right, to fading them in and out of each other - impressively well. (What marks it as particularly impressive is that most people didn't notice it enough to have said anything about it up to this point.)

Yes. I noticed it, and loved it. Thank you Mat.
Logged

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!

matweller
EA Staff
*****
Posts: 519



WWW
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2013, 04:23:38 PM »

They could have been trying to come here on purpose, to get away from it all.
In that case, the joke's on them since they ended up in Miami... Tongue
Logged
Wilson Fowlie
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1422



WWW
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2013, 04:36:42 PM »

They could have been trying to come here on purpose, to get away from it all.
In that case, the joke's on them since they ended up in Miami... Tongue

llol
Logged

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 784


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2013, 10:57:55 PM »

This one didn't much do it for me. I don't like stories where the main characters grind away at a deadly situation and then, finally, when all hope seems lost, they dramatically... fail. Because actually all hope was lost. Perhaps this story was well written, but the way it ended cast a huge shadow that no amount of good writing could pull the story out from under. Others may feel differently - and more power to 'em - but for me, this one was a total loss.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
Wilson Fowlie
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1422



WWW
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2013, 02:29:27 AM »

I don't like stories where the main characters grind away at a deadly situation and then, finally, when all hope seems lost, they dramatically... fail. Because actually all hope was lost.

That's what I wanted to say. Thank you.

Logged

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham
Listener
Hipparch
******
Posts: 3150


I place things in locations which later elude me.


WWW
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2013, 08:53:46 AM »

I liked the concept of the story -- that aliens could only communicate with a human who was concussed. But why pick THAT guy in particular? Why not just broadcast to everyone who was concussed in the entire Miami area?

However...

When I write, or talk about writing with my crit group, I always stress this point: get the small stuff right and the big stuff won't matter. So, when I wrote my novel, I made sure to be very careful about what bus routes the MC's apartment were near, the floor plan, etc. In my groupmate's fantasy novel, I'm always getting on her about how long a human pre-teen can walk in a day. That sort of thing.

That said... I'm a huge American football fan. I found so many issues with the way the football portion was technically described that I just kept getting pulled out of the story. To wit:

* If a player is injured and the team takes an injury time-out, said player must leave the game for a play and, if it's in the last two minutes and no time-outs are available, then ten seconds are taken off the clock. This means Tyler wouldn't have been in for consecutive plays unless the coach or QB (as team captain on the field) called time-out, and even then, with the way the NFL is about concussions these days, the team would have pulled Tyler rather than face massive fines and restrictions for letting him play.

* It's not very easy to get 22 points in football -- a TD is worth six, but usually seven because the extra point is a gimme. Field goals are worth 3. It is possible to get a two-point conversion after a TD, but given that the other team had 27, I can't see a reason Tyler's team would go for two even if they were mounting a comeback. Unless somehow Tyler's team got a safety early on in the game (which is possible, but not likely, as safeties are rare), 22 is a very strange point total to have.

* Linebacker numbers are 50-59, and then 90-99, and then, if the team somehow has all those numbers taken, I believe it goes 40-49. I've never in my life seen an NFL-level linebacker with a number in the 30s. Therefore, "old number 32" was more likely a safety (a la Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed), not a linebacker. Also, in a situation where you have to throw the ball downfield to make a comeback, the safety would probably be in coverage and the defense would be playing a three- or four-man line so that they'd outnumber the offensive players who could catch the ball (a maximum of five) by at least two.

* Rollins was called a runningback. RBs generally don't go downfield. They're usually the checkdown guy. Until he was named as an RB, I saw Rollins as a WR or really talented TE. I know the RB sometimes goes downfield, and more and more these days they get split out as WRs, but in a situation like this the coach would probably have the guys with the best hands and the best size to beat the defenders if they had to go up for a hail-mary.

* The odds of a third-string QB in the Superbowl at the last minute are highly unlikely. Not impossible, but unlikely. Plus, even if Tyler goes down, there'll still be SOMEONE on the team who can chuck the ball. Maybe not as well as a trained QB, but if you watch NFL practices before games, you do often see RBs, WRs, and TEs throwing the balls back to the QB.

So -- good concept, distracting execution.
Logged

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

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42
Pages: [1] 2 3  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!