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Author Topic: EP096: Job Qualifications  (Read 12811 times)
Jim
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« on: March 08, 2007, 10:05:30 AM »

EP096: Job Qualifications

By Kevin J. Anderson.
Read by Steve Anderson.

“And do I agree with everything they say?”

“The statements are very much in line with your platform, sir.” Rana formed a paternal smile. “You are, however, welcome to read any of them you like — in fact, I encourage it. The experience would be valuable for you.”

Candidate Berthold gave a dismissive wave. “That won’t be necessary. I’m already tired of the incessant paperwork, and I haven’t even been elected yet.” He laboriously began to sign each one. “I’ll have plenty of time to learn after I get into office.”

Rated PG. Contains moderate violence, suffering, and politics
« Last Edit: March 08, 2007, 10:07:37 AM by Jim » Logged

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Jim
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2007, 10:13:04 AM »

I liked this one, kept me guessing for a while.

It ended up being a sort of psychic twist on 1979 movie Parts: The Clonus Horror (or its blatant 2005 Michael Bay ripoff, The Island).

I think it's interesting that the narrator refers to each clone by his number, which led me to believe that each clone was aware of being a clone, when, in fact, only the clones' unseen handlers and the original Candidate Berthold actually know them as such.

I wonder, though, how each clone would have been directed into a specific career, law, medicine, religion, bureaucracy, and so on, and I also wonder if in the author's future vision such cloning is done clandestinely, or if it's a legal, common practice.

And, does the self-aware consciousness of each clone perish in the transfer of knowledge and experience, or is the new Candidate Berthold a conglomeration of each clone's psyche? Do they live on in his brain, or are they gone?

I'll be thinking about this story for a while.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2007, 10:21:37 AM by Jim » Logged

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lowky
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2007, 12:48:06 PM »

As per Steve's comment about what leader/politician today we would want cloned.  Well if we could actually get the Shrub and his cronies cloned and made to live the hell his policies has subjected the rest of us, especially our soldiers to.... 
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2007, 01:46:02 PM »

Candidate Berthold must be using new technology.  He wasn't using a NEPTH-charge or a Psyjack.  Does John Alpha know about this?

Oh, wait a minute.  I have the wrong clone story.  Wink
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2007, 09:40:18 PM »

I enjoyed this story a lot - the ending was rather predictable (the moment I heard about the diner clone and his happy life I realized that this can't end well for him), but that didn't really matter much. I wonder, though, how the story would have played if the clones weren't obviously identifiable as such by their names - if they had normal names and it became apparent that they were clones only at the end.

Probably that would have made a weaker story, but I'm curious what my reaction would have been.
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Simon Painter
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2007, 04:25:09 AM »

Short, sharp and fun, like a good joke  Smiley

I liked this one very much, it took a while to settle in at first, with all of the differing points of view, though it was worth the pay-off at the end.

It's interesting that despite making a point about Modern Politics, the story doesn't have a Political bias as such, I should think that's a rare thing, isn't it?

As to the introduction, I feel that SF stories (and, indeed, stories in general) have always had a problem with balance.  In the 40s and 50s, the emphasis was entirely  upon ideas, with characters often being sketchily drawn (Asimov, etc) which can be seen as a problem of course, especially to non-SF fans. 

Now, though, there seems to be the opposite problem, the emphasis is often *purely* on the characters, with the ideas being sketchily drawn. More specifically, the emphasis is on *emotion*, as if feeling strong emotion is the only way to assure good characterisation.

Case in point: the new Doctor Who series, every single episode features characters displaying stong emotion throughout, and the villain of the week is often just killed off Deus-ex Machina style in the closing minutes.

I don't think it's a case of the audience becoming 'more sofisticated' either, if anything, the literacy rate has been slowly declining over the years, stories now tend to be far simpler in terms of content and writing style than those 50 years ago.

The telling point of good fiction, I think, is the ability to find a balance between these two story aspects: fully emplore an interesting idea while still portraying the characters realistically (without descending into melo-drama, that is).

One other thing, I may well be wrong on this, and if so I hope someone can set me right, but isn't 'Van Vogt' pronounced 'van VOH't'?  This is the way I've always heard it, though I've no idea how the man himself said it.

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« Last Edit: March 09, 2007, 07:15:39 AM by madSimonJ » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2007, 10:56:52 AM »

One other thing, I may well be wrong on this, and if so I hope someone can set me right, but isn't 'Van Vogt' pronounced 'van VOH't'?  This is the way I've always heard it, though I've no idea how the man himself said it.

You may be right.  I actually forgot I'd put his name in there until I was standing before the microphone, so I didn't do sufficient research.
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slic
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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2007, 12:18:32 PM »

I felt this story was much too long for the payoff.  Even with the detailed descriptions, this seemed to be a punchline story.

The multiple lengthy descriptions of the other clones lives just dragged.  Too much "show".  I can understand that we need to feel for the clones, to understand their humanity, the tragic loss, but it just too so long to get to any action.  Perhaps this would work better with the lives being flashbacks experienced by the Candidate?
Speaking of logical holes (see Intro Smiley):
There was no explaination given as to why the Candidate didn't feel the death of each clone.
Or the fact that the clones likely looked just like the Candidate, whose face was all over international media according to the story, so how could people not treat them slightly different than "normal" people.

Overall, this is a quick delete story for me.

Quote from: lowky
Well if we could actually get the Shrub and his cronies cloned and made to live the hell his policies has subjected the rest of us, especially our soldiers to.... 
That would be a very positive use for the tech, but at the same time it could be cripple people from making hard decisions.  One the one hand, it would be useful for a leader to "feel" some of the consequences of their decisions (such as going to war), on the other, (thinking of WW2), would a leader hesitate too long out of fear of the pain that decision would give them.
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« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2007, 12:56:15 PM »

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, though I'm not as big a fan of the reader.  Some of my favorite stories on Escape Pod have just a touch of horror in them; the concept of people being reduced to barely-sentient automatons in "Blink.  Don't Blink.", and the mass murder of clones to rob them of their experiences here.

There was no explanation given as to why the Candidate didn't feel the death of each clone.
The clones were killed after the Candidate robbed them of their experiences.

Quote
Quote from: lowky
Well if we could actually get the Shrub and his cronies cloned and made to live the hell his policies has subjected the rest of us, especially our soldiers to.... 
That would be a very positive use for the tech, but at the same time it could cripple people from making hard decisions.  One the one hand, it would be useful for a leader to "feel" some of the consequences of their decisions (such as going to war), on the other, (thinking of WW2), would a leader hesitate too long out of fear of the pain that decision would give them?
The job of our leaders isn't just to make the "hard" decisions - in theory, it's to make the appropriate choice based upon the will of the constituents.  No decision should be made without considering the pain this choice will inflict upon those they were elected to represent.

If you accept the argument that a leader lacks the appropriate compassion for those it was elected to represent, then how can that leader still be said to be its constituent's representative?  Further, if a leader was to "hesitate too long" out of a personal fear, hasn't that leader already demonstrated that they are unfit for the job?  Putting one's self before one's sworn duty isn't exactly known as a leadership virtue.
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Stephen Lumini


« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2007, 01:26:16 PM »

There was no explanation given as to why the Candidate didn't feel the death of each clone.
The clones were killed after the Candidate robbed them of their experiences.
D'oh - did a quick re-listen and you're right.  The fluttering eyes of the last clone, coupled with loud children, confused me a bit.  Thanks - criticism retracted.  However, on a second listen, I noted the comments on how a candidate had to be compassionate, and I also remembered that at least one of the clones was very compassionate - how could the Candidate act so heartlessly?  And how do the voters think of the practice - it seems obvious that they are ok with it - it's not like it could be hidden.  Do other people in different walks of life do the same?

What about conflicting memories?  With so many different "personalities", they must have viewed/reacted world events in polar opposite ways.  How does the candidate reconcile that - I would be more interested in the side effects and remove the 4th, 5th, 6th view into the life of one of the clones.


Moderator's note: The rest of this comment has been redacted.  Expressing your own opinions is fine; questioning the validity of other people's is not.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2007, 02:25:08 PM by SFEley » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2007, 01:30:42 PM »

Candidate Berthold must be using new technology.  He wasn't using a NEPTH-charge or a Psyjack.  Does John Alpha know about this?

Oh, wait a minute.  I have the wrong clone story.  Wink


Crap, you beat me to it Wink I was thinking about 7th Son a lot while listening to this story.
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slic
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Stephen Lumini


« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2007, 01:34:48 PM »

Funny, so was I, but unfortunately not in a good way - they both had that long "opening" with detailed stories about the clones.  It annoyed me enough in 7th Son to stop listening.
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slic
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Stephen Lumini


« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2007, 03:15:44 PM »

Quote
Moderator's note: The rest of this comment has been redacted.  Expressing your own opinions is fine; questioning the validity of other people's is not.
OK, I'll try again from a different angle:

Quote
Quote from: lowky
Well if we could actually get the Shrub and his cronies cloned and made to live the hell his policies has subjected the rest of us, especially our soldiers to.... 
That would be a very positive use for the tech, but at the same time it could cripple people from making hard decisions.  One the one hand, it would be useful for a leader to "feel" some of the consequences of their decisions (such as going to war), on the other, (thinking of WW2), would a leader hesitate too long out of fear of the pain that decision would give them?
The job of our leaders isn't just to make the "hard" decisions - in theory, it's to make the appropriate choice based upon the will of the constituents.  No decision should be made without considering the pain this choice will inflict upon those they were elected to represent.

If you accept the argument that a leader lacks the appropriate compassion for those it was elected to represent, then how can that leader still be said to be its constituent's representative?  Further, if a leader was to "hesitate too long" out of a personal fear, hasn't that leader already demonstrated that they are unfit for the job?  Putting one's self before one's sworn duty isn't exactly known as a leadership virtue.
I consider this an ideal world assumption.  History and current events are rife with people in power taking advantage of that - especially in ways that help them (or friends/relatives) get richer or avoid doing their duty - and still getting re-elected.

I get the impression that this story came out of the idea of "walking a mile in my shoes" - and this was more along what I was getting at - sometimes it is easy to make a ruling when it doesn't affect you "Sorry kids, only an hour of TV a day (but Dad watches as much as he wants)"  or "This tax hike is necessary to balance the country's books - says the millionaire Prime Minister"  or "Gov't provided healthcare is too expensive - says the President, knowing that he will never have to wait in line to see a doctor - ever" 
But there are times when, in the long run, it really is for the best.  However, I'm not sure there are many leaders with enough character to suffer through them if they could avoid it - in the story, the priviledged Candidate never had to worry for anything - if a leader knew that some of the pain they regrettably, necessarily had to inflict on the general population (for example, going to war) was visted upon them, are you strong enough in your convictions, jdarksun, to believe they would still do it?  I'm too cynical to believe that of most leaders (though not all).

"Putting one's[sic] self before one's[sic] sworn duty isn't exactly known as a leadership virtue." Very, very true, but I know a few politicians that have done just that, it's known to the public, and, nevertheless, they have been elected.  What makes you think they wouldn't do it again?
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« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2007, 05:34:37 PM »

Overall I liked this story.  It's not going to be a keeper, but I was invested and interested during its duration, and I wasn't wandering off mentally or cringing at possible outcomes.

There are some niggling bits, however, in the worldbuilding...stuff that didn't quite gel for me.  It seemed like the story was supposed to be a future projection of current day politics, in a socio-political milieu that is otherwise very much like our own...except that we don't routinely throw people in jail for no reason.  Was it ok to throw the guy in jail because he was a clone?  Or are we supposed to assume that this just happens to folk in this time period?  If we can routinely throw people in jail for no reason, why are we having elections, then?  Usually the throwing of people into jail at whim is a pretty good indicator of an authoritarian government, and those don't usually have elections, right?  Or is this a one of a kind, secret jail that only proto-candidate clones experience?  And why is having the jailed experience so vital to the candidate?  After all, if we're going to be whipping these guys and pushing them around in forced labor camps, we're probably not going to allow them to vote.  Plenty of states don't allow felons to vote, so why are we concerned about that segment of the population, and what it's like to be them? 

I don't know...I had trouble getting from today to the projected future, I couldn't see the route.
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« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2007, 10:46:09 PM »

Very good story, but, while with a very impressive voice, I think Steve Anderson's ultra dramatic reading was a bit much for the piece. Save for the part with the labor camp, there his voice of torment was fitting.
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« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2007, 11:11:11 PM »

This one was enjoyable -- my mind didn't drift off; at least not too much. That seems to be one of the primary indicators as to whether I perceive the story as "good" or not: if my mind ends up drifting back into the traffic on I-20 that I'm trying to avoid getting run over by, then the story isn't as good as if I stay with the story, despite the afternoon traffic as I'm heading to work.

I have to agree with some of the other posters here -- Anderson's reading was a bit over the top, and somewhat detracted from the piece itself. He's a good voice artist, but his voice was not right for the piece.

M
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Jim
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« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2007, 01:16:41 PM »

Was it ok to throw the guy in jail because he was a clone?

My impression was that the jailed and abused clone was meant to provide the candidate with empathy with those who are institutionally wronged.
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« Reply #17 on: March 12, 2007, 01:44:08 AM »

I really liked this one. It kept me guessing and even if it was a bit heavy-handed, it spoke to the impossible expectations we have for our candidates.
Oh, and I agree with this:
It's interesting that despite making a point about Modern Politics, the story doesn't have a Political bias as such, I should think that's a rare thing, isn't it?

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« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2007, 10:28:23 AM »

Was it ok to throw the guy in jail because he was a clone?
My impression was that the jailed and abused clone was meant to provide the candidate with empathy with those who are institutionally wronged.

Right, I get that...what I don't get (quite) is the system under which this jailing happens.  Does it happen to everyone/anyone?  Just clones?  The story specifically states that the innocence/guilt of the clone has not bearing on their punishment.  And his treatment went way beyond the institutionally wronged, IMO.  It was so extreme that it I had to wonder what kind of government allowed and supported this.  The question is raised by the story, but not answered.  Are we in some future Uzbekistan?  Because this doesn't seem like a credible future America, at least not one with elections.  Since the whole story turns on the importance of the elections, I found this unclarified bit particularly niggling.
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« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2007, 02:26:35 PM »

I fully expected the final line to be, "So, you're ready for the debate, Candidate Berthold? Good. The first topic shall be: Clones' rights."
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