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Author Topic: EP387: Perspective  (Read 1773 times)
eytanz
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« on: March 14, 2013, 05:52:36 AM »

EP387: Perspective

By Jake Kerr

Read by Julian Bane

---

The worst part about picking my son up from the police station was the walk to get there. I hadn’t been outside in years, but it was still the same–the drab gray of the smog-stained overcast sky, the decaying concrete, the stench of gasoline, urine, and who knew what else. But thanks to Jeffrey there was a new assault to my senses–black molecular paint permanently defacing an already wretched city.With every step I could see his work–his “tags” as the police called them. They were all different, and there was no rhyme or reason as to what he would vandalize–the sides of buildings, street surfaces, retailer kiosks, even windows. The randomness made catching my son a difficult task for the police, but catch him they did, and now I had to walk these vile streets to bring him home.

I paid the bail, followed the directions to processing, and waited for my son. The policewoman there was polite and offered me a seat, but I stood. I wasn’t in the mood to relax, and Jeffrey needed to see how angry I was. So I waited, arms behind my back, staring at the door that led inside.

His head hung low as he walked out. He glanced up at me and then lowered his head again. “Hi, Pop,” he mumbled. I didn’t move. He walked over and added in a whisper, “I’m really sorry.”

“You lied to me.” I grabbed his right hand and pulled it up between us. “These black stains aren’t paint, Jeffrey. That is your _skin_. It was the price to pay for your job, you said. I’m painting ships with a new kind of paint, you said. You made the stains sound like a worthy sacrifice.” I tossed his hand down.

“Pop, please. Let’s talk about this at home.” He looked around the room, shifting from one foot to the other.

“Yes, we will discuss this at home.” I turned and walked out the door. He followed. I walked the streets again, Jeffrey shuffling behind me. I focused on the concrete at my feet, unable to bear looking at his work. My hands were clenched tight enough to turn my knuckles white, so I shoved them in my pockets.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Listener
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2013, 07:28:13 AM »

The moment I figured out what was happening, this story lost some of its magic for me. Before that, it was just barely sci-fi (nanotech, nanopaint, but all as incidental to the story of the dad and his son), which I respect, but I think I was distracted by trying to figure out WHY this story was on EP in the first place. I do tend to read things at a surface level first and foremost, and not consider the deeper layers until much later, and that's probably a personal failing.

I also found the writing occasionally distracting -- "I considered striking him." Whose internal monologue says that, exactly? (This is not a commentary on parenting, but on word choice by the author.) There were other instances of it as well.

I think the narrator is great, although when the MC is named "Bill Chapman", I'm not sure if his particular accent fits the story. I would love to hear from him again, though.
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matweller
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2013, 08:10:08 AM »

Mr Bain was a new find for me and I was very happy with how well his voice fit the story, character's name aside. As you should with any of our authors or narrators, please-please-please take a minute to visit his website - http://www.doctorwhoempire.com/ - hit the contact link, and drop a quick note that you heard him on EP and look forward to hearing him again. No critiques, please, that's what the forum is for. But an attaboy when you enjoy is big for the narrator and for EP.
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Kaa
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2013, 10:15:51 AM »

This story suffers from one of those weird problems: The title gives away the entire ending. As soon as the fact that the son was making random marks around the city came up, I knew exactly what he was doing. The rest of the story, therefore, dragged for me because I kept wanting the father to just...figure it out. I did, so why couldn't he?

The reading was magnificent. And I liked the story, I just think if should have had a title that didn't telegraph the ending. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2013, 01:30:37 PM »

The title telegraphed the ending as son as I heard the line
Quote
They were all different, and there was no rhyme or reason as to what he would vandalize
Then it was just a matter of waiting for the story to end so we could hear the feedback.

During the story I got bored so I toyed with the idea that the title could just as easily be because of the narrator/protag. He is such a narrow-minded little moron that there really was no identifying with him (for me at least). And since we get to hear his internal monolog, it's even worse.
Quote
I felt that he had finally come to his senses and was working up the courage to apologize to me and present some kind of plan for turning his life around.
Been a long time since you were young, pops. That's not how people think.
The entire story is full of "I was sure" of this and "I knew" that. And they are all wrong. So maybe, just maybe, the title of the story is an excuse for this man's little mind.
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BrentN
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« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2013, 06:34:43 PM »

The premise of the story was pretty pedestrian and, like a previous commenter, the story lost its magic when I figured out what was going on. The golden bit of this story was Julian Bane. His voice was perfect, conjuring the vision of a late middle-aged man, slightly overweight, perhaps even with an Archie Bunker-ish profile. In his gravelly voice, the transition from a man who saw no joy in life to a man with a single moment of beauty was perfectly executed and made the story worth the listen.
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2013, 10:37:15 AM »

I'm along with the majority that figured the ending long before it arrived, but thoroughly enjoyed the narrator.
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guydmann
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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2013, 12:36:09 PM »

Although I agree with the previous posters that the ending of the story was made obvious by an over abundance of foreshadowing, I have to differ with them by saying that even 'knowing' what the ending would be didn't destroy the magic of the final moments.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2013, 08:41:31 AM »

I was too thick to see the meaning of the ending, but I saw said ending coming from a half-mile off (why only a half-mile? It's a short story)
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FireTurtle
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2013, 06:41:49 PM »

Equal parts magical and disappointing.

The sensory writing was very evocative and the ending breathtakingly poignant.

The title was -as mentioned several times already- sort of a give away and made me impatient to get there and thus incredibly impatient with the main character.

 It will stick with me nonetheless because I am utterly susceptible to good imagery. In the win column, with a tiny asterisk.
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2013, 09:56:29 PM »

Almost teared up on this one, despite the predictable ending.
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timprov
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« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2013, 06:34:24 AM »

I'm going with the pack on this one.  The story was meh, but the reading was great.  Not sure I would have stuck with it if the reading wasn't as strong as it was.

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Scumpup
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...


« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2013, 07:02:01 AM »

I couldn't help but react to this story from the perspective of a citizen of the city who is anybody except the main character.  My window, my wall, my kiosk, my whatever, permanently defaced for the sake of one grouchy old man who wallows in grief and self-pity?  I don't believe I would feel anything but resentful at being drawn, however peripherally, into this little family drama.  Father and son are a massively dysfunctional, self-absorbed pair.  I don't know if that is how the author wanted me to perceive them, but there you go.
I did like the narrator.  Let's hear more from him.
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InfiniteMonkey
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Clearly, I need more typewriters....


« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2013, 07:28:56 PM »

What I have trouble buying is that portrait is visible ONLY from his balcony. It should be at least partly visible - even with distortions of perspective - by all the units around the narrator's.
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SF.Fangirl
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« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2013, 09:52:03 PM »

This story suffers from one of those weird problems: The title gives away the entire ending. As soon as the fact that the son was making random marks around the city came up, I knew exactly what he was doing. The rest of the story, therefore, dragged for me because I kept wanting the father to just...figure it out. I did, so why couldn't he?

The reading was magnificent. And I liked the story, I just think if should have had a title that didn't telegraph the ending. Smiley

I agree.  I very quickly figured out that the son was creating a massive, city-wide piece of art.  I didn't really expect the father to figure it out (I thought a reporter might and then it would be on the news and make the son a celebrity instead of a criminal), but the story dragged while I was just waiting and waiting for the end to find out what the subject was - wife/mom was indeed high on my list of possibilities.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2013, 07:53:19 AM »

This was a story where my habitual overlooking of titles really helped me out. I enjoyed the reading so much that it didn't bother me to keep listening when I finally did figure out the twist (before the father, but way after most of you). Boys, teenagers, even guys in their twenties can be really dumb sometimes so I didn't have any trouble believing that the son wouldn't see anything wrong in defacing other people's property to do something nice for his dad. (No offense meant to the guys, we girls can be dumb sometimes too- just not nearly as often! Wink)
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TheArchivist
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2013, 01:32:16 PM »

Like most folks I saw the ending coming, maybe not from the first sentence but certainly before the trial scene. And like SF.Fangirl I just wanted to skip to finding out what the picture was.
What I have trouble buying is that portrait is visible ONLY from his balcony. It should be at least partly visible - even with distortions of perspective - by all the units around the narrator's.
Entirely valid point, but I put it down to artistic license. The trouble is, once you take it into account, it's obvious that SF.Fangirl's reporter will have been informed long before the father finally saw it, and the story would be very different.
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El Barto
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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2013, 04:34:52 PM »

I don't often see twists coming but this one was telegraphed a mile away.  There was really no subtly or misdirection.  The boy said he wasn't lying, he was working on something, was worried about the dad, etc., just too obvious.

That said, it was well written, emotionally moving, and wow that was an awesome new narrator.  I am dropping by his website now to say thanks.
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benjaminjb
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« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2013, 09:55:14 PM »

As an idea, I like it: dad is shut-in, driven away from the city by his grief over wife; so son reconstitutes city as an image of wife. As a story, it sort of dragged for me.

As for the double-meaning of "perspective," I think it's fair to note the double meaning (dad's grief-narrowed view on life) and to note how the title gives away the plot of the story (dad needs literal new perspective on son's activities).

So add me to the legion here who enjoyed the narration but was less into the story.

Though speaking of story, has anyone read Jake Kerr's "Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince"?
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manimoo
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« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2013, 11:25:45 AM »

The ending was predictable (maybe even intentionally so, considering the title), but I still felt genuinely moved once it was spelled out. I think if a story makes me feel something a smack-in-the-face twist ending might just be a distraction. I enjoyed this one.
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