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Author Topic: EP390: Cerbo un Vitra ujo  (Read 41444 times)

Gamercow

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Reply #125 on: May 07, 2013, 03:07:45 PM
I disliked this one very much until Ms. Kowal came on the forum to discuss the story and give us some insight into its creation.  Here's what I was going to write, more or less, before that point:

"I didn't like this story because it was so simplistic, with no foundation in reason.  For the most part I don't mind stories that don't follow the laws of physics, but stories that don't follow the laws of common sense do bother me.  This seems like a simplistic moral tale, like a fairy tale or some such, with a SF pastiche put over it, with a dash of horror for extra punch."

I don't know/remember the story of the Snow Queen, but I feel that knowing the author's intention, a sci-fi/horror retelling of a fairy tale, reshapes my opinion of the story.  I now think of it as a very good adaptation of an old tale that is supposed to have shallow characters that act in very simplistic ways.  I don't mean that as an insult, either, that's just what happens in fairy tales.  The characters are secondary to the theme and the moral(?) of the story, in this case that true love will suffer great lengths to save their beloved, even if it means a tragic end. 

This of course leads me to an interesting introspection.  I definitely look for more substance and depth from a sci-fi story than I do a fantasy story.  In the former, I'm looking for deep characters, setting, and internal logic, while in the latter, while having those things are all good, I understand that many times, one or more of those things goes by the wayside in order to put forth a grander idea or moral or lesson. I don't brook any malice towards either, I just realized that is what I come into those stories expecting. 

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LaShawn

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Reply #126 on: May 09, 2013, 05:29:06 PM
Holy shit.

::stares in horrified silence for a long, long time::

Hole. Lee. Shit. ::more horrified silence ::

Right.

So, a bit of context. For the past year or so, I've been somewhat rediscovering my black identity. (A long story and if you want to know, ask me about it sometime). This past weekend was Mo*Con, and a friend of mine, for my birthday, put together a playlist of a history of hiphop and rap. Now mind, being raised by a fundamentalist mom, I never really listened to much hiphop and rap in my youth. So it was most interesting. For the most part, I enjoyed it, but there were times when the swearing and the liberal use of the 'n' word got too much for me, so I would switch to Podcastle and EscapePod for "lighter" fare. And it was the same with this story, except as I was switching it over, I accidentally turned the volume down, and then had to change lanes, so by the time I could turn the volume back up, Norm was reading Mary's bio. Which meant I completely missed the warning.

Let me repeat that. I completely missed Norm's warning.

I hated this story. Hated, hated, hated this story. Not because of the rape and the snuff and what not. Not because of the Grete's naivetivity or the evil evil doctor. I hated this story because the whole system was one big fail. The implications of what Kai's mother was doing. The society where people could get new body parts and not care where they came from, whether they knew it or not. The society where a girl could be so stupid to go chasing after some boy using her mother's credit card and not telling her where she was going and then get in way over her head. For love? Gahhhh...

And then, And then, it got worse, much much worse, so much worse that I missed my exit and drove 15 miles on another expressway out of my way because I was shrieking at the radio at the top of my lungs. And what made it all worse is knowing that this happens on a regular basis. Kids get kidnapped, jailed, sold into slavery, disappear, and if you took out the science fiction elements, this could easily be a non-fiction story here. Heck, look what happened to those women found in Cleaveland.  Stuff like this happens all the time, and it's the system's fault, the people's fault, everyone's fault. And I got so angry, so very angry.

So angry I decided to pop the rap playlist back on, and the very first song? NWA's "Fight the Power".

How apropos.

At some point, I'm going to read it again (read, not listen), because as I was writing this post, I learned this was the same structure of The Snow Queen, which is one of my favorite stories. And now I have the same reaction as Gamercow, because holy shit, now that I know what it's based on, I can see the structure, and it is fucking brilliant. The writer part of me is going nuts and wants to dissect it. And I will, once I get some distance from it.

I think I appreciate hiphop a bit more, and I'm going to figure out how to challenge the system, because there are ways to change systems. I'm also going to watch My Little Pony, because I think I need sugar and rainbows right now.

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bounceswoosh

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Reply #127 on: May 10, 2013, 02:05:12 AM
I just logged on for the first time because I listened to the feedback, didn't remember the story as described, was curious about what seemed like a pretty negative response by the forum, and went back to check it out.

I loved this story.

It was horrifying, yes, and also lushly written and evocative.  If it had not been written so well and read so well, it would have been tawdry.  But it was written well, and so it was tragic.



pixelante

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Reply #128 on: May 12, 2013, 03:07:20 AM
Some of the comments have some excellent points, and I'm sorry if this has already been covered. but I feel the need to vent as well.

Never have I heard such a clumsy story in all the years I have listened to Escape Pod and its affiliates.
The author shows her hand in all its clumsy, hamfisted glory as she railroads her protagonist into one bad decision after another.  The author mentions the fact that the protagionist is supposed to be a good hacker, but I find that hard to believe when she consistently ignores the increasing number of red flags that pop up in her search. First she cannot find anything about the school and while we are at it why didn’t the boyfriend send up his own red flag? If you are going to be sent away to a prestigious school you are going to excited about it and want to know all you can yet he doe not find it suspicious that he cannot discover anything.
Second, this is supposed to be a dystopian future where bodysnatching is normalised, yet the protagonist does not become suspicious when she cannot find anything about this supposedly great school doing charity work for the underprivileged?
Third, the protagonist then makes the error of leaving her safety net without letting anyone know, even if it’s just a time delayed message and when she discovers the woman with her boyfriend’s eyes decides to continue walking into the lion’s den with her eyes closed.
Fourth, not once does she use any common sense and and  consider that it would be smarter to play to her strengths and attempt to discover the truth online with her amazing hacking skills.
If this was just a touch more pornographic it would be an S&M erotic story.
I like my horror, but the plot  had more holes than a Hollywood blockbuster with none of the popcorn entertainment value, very poor, rating Not Applicable.



childoftyranny

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Reply #129 on: May 21, 2013, 01:52:22 AM
The responses to this story don't surprise me, I have the unfortunate happenstance or this to be what I listened to right before lunch, as well trying to do a little skip-over of very rapey stuff, only to realize that the part that was really warned about comes later, I'm gonna bow down to fate on that one, well played.

I really didn't see her actions as being too outlandish, her original conviction that her was just selling off a few parts(Well I have TWO kidneys...) to get money would suggest that part wasn't super risky, and the mention of daily shuttles going back and forth suggests that a trip there wasn't uncommon, though expensive enough to require her moms credit card. Form the authors response, I saw it confirmed, that unlike her home, this second station had body harvesting as a more condoned thing, I dunno about families selling their children, but I don't think that people would find people with harvested parts to be unusual. I suspect that it was n accepted illusion that it all must be done properly. On a side note, I love the idea of piano bars being a big thing in the future!

After the original seduction scene, albeit-creepy seduction you definitely get the idea that hes certainly dead, and for most purposes he is. It seems far more creepy that they keep the bodies alive long term, but I know we already do that short term for heart and lung types of transplants.

I'm torn on whether the rape was necessary, I do see what horror it ads to the situation, thinking more on it, I even see more anger in the "See, this is what you really wanted" response when he shows her the donor corpse, because of the scene we read mostly fakery into his attempt at seduction, but if you understand that as being honest, that, these younger parts were an honest, if terrifying, attempt at being more a looker it changes why did things, without making them any better in any way.

This was a very provocative story, I find it fascinating that this is what came out of a story being called too tame and without reading anything into it I'd be curious to the reason for the original rejection from Pseudopod. I hope the folks that were so put off by this they went running give things a second shot, if this was my first story here I might have been shy about a second, but I also enjoy horror, if something more psychological, than visceral are more to my taste, yanno calling it a taste in horror is creepy in and of itself!



ancawonka

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Reply #130 on: May 22, 2013, 02:42:35 AM
I thought the story was good while listening to it - disturbing and close to reality, quite horrifying. 

The ending felt like something out of classical horror pulps.

All of the discussion here is fascinating, and makes me want to read the story again in written form. 



Cynandre

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Reply #131 on: May 24, 2013, 12:41:07 PM
Wow, I can't believe I stuck with this story until the end. I had this need to know what happened to Kaj and what Grete would do to find him.
The results disturbed me, but I have always been one to realize that these kind of stories should also be told. It kept me transfixed and broke
my heart a little, so I guess it was told well. But I won't be listening to it again any time soon.

Another Note::
I can clearly imagine the Surgeon and Kaj's parents getting theirs.
I blame Network TVs' plentiful supply of Crime series. ;)

Insanity takes it's toll. Please have exact change.


Carlos Ferreira

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Reply #132 on: May 24, 2013, 07:34:12 PM
I am as horrified as fascinated with this story. I do not want to discuss the violence, but only the theme. To me, this was a book about power. Kal has no power whatsoever, Grete is in a plain that gives her a little more power, but even her becomes a prey to people who more power. It's about the value of life, and what it means when everything goes. It is, to me, a moral story.



Bikebiddy

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Reply #133 on: June 01, 2013, 11:56:17 PM
I'm with Matweller on this. Sure it is graphic, gruesome and painful - but it is a wake up call to those of us who have never been seriously exploited. What does it take to sell a kidney? People do it in India.  What does it take to let someone defile your body?  Young women do it all the time.  I found the situation plausible and the violence was measured for effect.



Frungi

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Reply #134 on: June 02, 2013, 01:56:12 AM
Maybe that’s part of why some had such a negative reaction to the story. People generally don’t like to be reminded that there are parts of this world that we live in where horrible violations are common, even permitted. (Especially in a publication which has(/had?) “Have fun” as a motto.)



PrimerofinTheSequel

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Reply #135 on: June 05, 2013, 03:03:36 AM
Loved it.
Scare me.

Author doesn't have to justify anything to anyone.



Unblinking

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Reply #136 on: June 05, 2013, 02:40:40 PM
Wow this generated a lot of feedback!

Was this horror?  Yes.  

Was this SF?  Also yes.  I see genre as a series of checkboxes, rather than radio buttons:  "Select all that apply".  

Was this rape-porn?  Hell no.  For it to be pornography it would have to have the goal of sexual gratification of the listener.  Which, I'm with scattercat on this one, was either clearly not the intent or if it was the intent was a complete and total failure (but I really don't think that's a possibility here).  None of the scenes are written in a way that suggests arousal as a reaction, unless perhaps for someone who's into some really freaky stuff and then I'd really prefer they keep that to themselves...

For me the intent here was clear, to tell a horrific and tragic story of dying for love.  I totally understand why that doesn't work for everybody, and everybody has to draw a line where they draw the line for themselves.  A pre-episode warning was totally justified here (and yikes, LaShawn, for having accidentally missed that!). 



Was this snuff?  I don't see how that label could possibly make sense here.  Unless my passing definition of snuff is not what I think it is.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the Wikipedia entry was accurate in that a snuff film is:
Quote
A snuff film is a motion picture genre that depicts the actual murder of a person or people, without the aid of special effects, for the express purpose of distribution and entertainment or financial exploitation.
Quote
motion picture genre
So, since this is not a film, of course it's not a snuff FILM.  But is it a snuff short story?  
Quote
for the express purpose of distribution and entertainment or financial exploitation
This is surely true.  The story has been distributed on an entertainment podcast, and she's been paid at least twice for it.
Quote
actual murder of a person or people
Well, did Mary Robinette Kowal actually kill someone and then write a short story about the murder?  I'm guessing not, though I don't have sufficient evidence to rule this out for sure, I have not seen any hint that this is the case.  
Quote
without the aid of special effects
The definition of special effects in prose is, I guess, embellishment or deviation from actual events.  For Mary to have written this without embellishment she would've had to observe some actual future where these events were possible.  Which I can't totally rule out, but for which there is also no evidence to support.

It's kind of a funny idea to have a snuff short story where someone would go to the legal risk of committing a murder just to write a short story about it without having to embellish.  Might make a funny flash story. Maybe I'll try that.

So, if you take away the "special effects" part, and the "actual" part, then you're left with a fictional story in which there is at least one murder for which the author intends to distribute and/or make money.   Which much of the Mystery genre is specifically centered around, much of the horror genre, and large subsets of any other genre.

Is there another definition of snuff that I'm unaware of?


And snarkily name-drop to contradict my point?
Sweetie, if you want snark, I can bring it on. That wasn't it. This is, however, the point at which I've crossed from being interested to being pissed. Stop assigning motivations to me.

I'd also add that "name-drop" is much too strong a word.  Mary mentioned the people that she worked with on this, and an feedback that led to a change in the story.  The latter was information directly relevant to the current state of the story, and the former is the origin of that feedback.

To me at least, name-dropping is the gratuitous use of names to impress others, especially if it's not actually relevant to the discussion at hand.  But it was totally relevant here.
 
Also, hi Mary!  And thanks for stopping by.  We can be a contentious lot, but I love the discussions here.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2013, 03:03:17 PM by Unblinking »



Unblinking

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Reply #137 on: June 05, 2013, 03:00:32 PM
And, as to the story itself:

I think it was done well.  Yes it was dark.  No, I probably won't listen to it again because it's a very emotionally raw story.

Was she a victim?  Well, in the sense that she is doomed at the end to an unpleasant fate, I guess so.  But I respect her dedication, her love, and her fortitude, even if there's a possibility that she could've found a way to meet her goal without killing herself in the process.  I'm not even convinced that she could've done it any other way.  Time was of the essence, she thought she had to act quick before he was lost forever.  Hacking takes time, less time than showing up on the doorstep.

I was surprised that the rape was the thing that many people reacted so strongly too.  Rape is a topic which I'm not comfortable with in a story or elsewhere, and has to be used very carefully.  But being uncomfortable with it doesn't mean it shouldn't be talked about.  Rape happens in the real world, and to exclude it from fiction would be to deny its existence.   This story is about rape of multiple kinds.  The doctor cuts people apart and sells their pieces to people who are bored with their own parts--the loss of control and pain inherent in these acts is rape.  Why in the world would the doctor who has not hesitated to do this to random strangers whenever the opportunity arises, draw the line at sexual rape?  "I'll happily leave you senseless and suffering for the rest of your unnaturally prolonged life, but when it comes to sex, no means no."  For him to do anything but gratify his own urges at the cost of others in every possible way would be out of character for him.  I'm not saying that it's wrong to react strongly to the sexual rape when the rest of the story already had the body harvesting aspect, I just don't understand that view at all. 

By the time she was halfway through the story I didn't feel that romantic love was driving her, but compassion for a fellow human being.  She knew deep down that something had gone horribly wrong and she wanted to spare him that pain however she could.  She took on pain of her own in the end, but it takes a noble person who would cause themselves pain to spare another the same.  She is well and truly doomed at the end of the story, but her actions were not for nothing.  She has done nothing to stop the doc, and maybe she could have stopped him in some way, but in her rush she committed to her goal until there was no possible way out.  Even if she killed the doc, there is clearly a huge societal problem here that stopping him would do nothing to solve.  The villain is just one cockroach thriving in a world of cockroaches, squashing him makes little difference to society.  But she can make a difference to this one person, and she does.  To her that matters.  To him that matters.  That has to be enough.  It's like the parable about the person throwing beached starfish into the ocean--she can save one starfish but she can't stop the tide from going out.

I don't think she saw the final line of the story as a surprise.  She saw it as inevitable.  At that point it really doesn't matter, because she's done all she can do and she has made peace with it.




Unblinking

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Reply #138 on: June 05, 2013, 03:29:09 PM
 Also, if anyone has some desire to read rape-porn, volunteer to read slush for a horror magazine.  You will get plenty of it.



Dem

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Reply #139 on: June 05, 2013, 05:30:04 PM
And, as to the story itself:

I think it was done well.  Yes it was dark.  No, I probably won't listen to it again because it's a very emotionally raw story.

Was she a victim?  Well, in the sense that she is doomed at the end to an unpleasant fate, I guess so.  But I respect her dedication, her love, and her fortitude, even if there's a possibility that she could've found a way to meet her goal without killing herself in the process.  I'm not even convinced that she could've done it any other way.  Time was of the essence, she thought she had to act quick before he was lost forever.  Hacking takes time, less time than showing up on the doorstep.

I was surprised that the rape was the thing that many people reacted so strongly too.  Rape is a topic which I'm not comfortable with in a story or elsewhere, and has to be used very carefully.  But being uncomfortable with it doesn't mean it shouldn't be talked about.  Rape happens in the real world, and to exclude it from fiction would be to deny its existence.   This story is about rape of multiple kinds.  The doctor cuts people apart and sells their pieces to people who are bored with their own parts--the loss of control and pain inherent in these acts is rape.  Why in the world would the doctor who has not hesitated to do this to random strangers whenever the opportunity arises, draw the line at sexual rape?  "I'll happily leave you senseless and suffering for the rest of your unnaturally prolonged life, but when it comes to sex, no means no."  For him to do anything but gratify his own urges at the cost of others in every possible way would be out of character for him.  I'm not saying that it's wrong to react strongly to the sexual rape when the rest of the story already had the body harvesting aspect, I just don't understand that view at all. 

By the time she was halfway through the story I didn't feel that romantic love was driving her, but compassion for a fellow human being.  She knew deep down that something had gone horribly wrong and she wanted to spare him that pain however she could.  She took on pain of her own in the end, but it takes a noble person who would cause themselves pain to spare another the same.  She is well and truly doomed at the end of the story, but her actions were not for nothing.  She has done nothing to stop the doc, and maybe she could have stopped him in some way, but in her rush she committed to her goal until there was no possible way out.  Even if she killed the doc, there is clearly a huge societal problem here that stopping him would do nothing to solve.  The villain is just one cockroach thriving in a world of cockroaches, squashing him makes little difference to society.  But she can make a difference to this one person, and she does.  To her that matters.  To him that matters.  That has to be enough.  It's like the parable about the person throwing beached starfish into the ocean--she can save one starfish but she can't stop the tide from going out.

I don't think she saw the final line of the story as a surprise.  She saw it as inevitable.  At that point it really doesn't matter, because she's done all she can do and she has made peace with it.



Well said, that man :)

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.


Mary Robinette Kowal

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Reply #140 on: June 06, 2013, 03:11:14 AM
Also, hi Mary!  And thanks for stopping by.  We can be a contentious lot, but I love the discussions here.

Hi! Part of why I like EscapePod is because of the committed audience and the active forum discussions.



Cynandre

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Reply #141 on: June 06, 2013, 08:42:12 PM
And, as to the story itself:

I think it was done well.  Yes it was dark.  No, I probably won't listen to it again because it's a very emotionally raw story.

Was she a victim?  Well, in the sense that she is doomed at the end to an unpleasant fate, I guess so.  But I respect her dedication, her love, and her fortitude, even if there's a possibility that she could've found a way to meet her goal without killing herself in the process.  I'm not even convinced that she could've done it any other way.  Time was of the essence, she thought she had to act quick before he was lost forever.  Hacking takes time, less time than showing up on the doorstep.

I was surprised that the rape was the thing that many people reacted so strongly too.  Rape is a topic which I'm not comfortable with in a story or elsewhere, and has to be used very carefully.  But being uncomfortable with it doesn't mean it shouldn't be talked about.  Rape happens in the real world, and to exclude it from fiction would be to deny its existence.   This story is about rape of multiple kinds.  The doctor cuts people apart and sells their pieces to people who are bored with their own parts--the loss of control and pain inherent in these acts is rape.  Why in the world would the doctor who has not hesitated to do this to random strangers whenever the opportunity arises, draw the line at sexual rape?  "I'll happily leave you senseless and suffering for the rest of your unnaturally prolonged life, but when it comes to sex, no means no."  For him to do anything but gratify his own urges at the cost of others in every possible way would be out of character for him.  I'm not saying that it's wrong to react strongly to the sexual rape when the rest of the story already had the body harvesting aspect, I just don't understand that view at all. 

By the time she was halfway through the story I didn't feel that romantic love was driving her, but compassion for a fellow human being.  She knew deep down that something had gone horribly wrong and she wanted to spare him that pain however she could.  She took on pain of her own in the end, but it takes a noble person who would cause themselves pain to spare another the same.  She is well and truly doomed at the end of the story, but her actions were not for nothing.  She has done nothing to stop the doc, and maybe she could have stopped him in some way, but in her rush she committed to her goal until there was no possible way out.  Even if she killed the doc, there is clearly a huge societal problem here that stopping him would do nothing to solve.  The villain is just one cockroach thriving in a world of cockroaches, squashing him makes little difference to society.  But she can make a difference to this one person, and she does.  To her that matters.  To him that matters.  That has to be enough.  It's like the parable about the person throwing beached starfish into the ocean--she can save one starfish but she can't stop the tide from going out.

I don't think she saw the final line of the story as a surprise.  She saw it as inevitable.  At that point it really doesn't matter, because she's done all she can do and she has made peace with it.



Thank you. Sometimes I do not have the words and you put them out there the most clearly.

Insanity takes it's toll. Please have exact change.


hardware

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Reply #142 on: November 04, 2013, 01:10:49 AM
Long thread here, which wasn't that surprising given the nature of the story. When you write explicitly about sexual abuse, you should be prepared for strong reactions. But I like an author who is ready to take risks, and this was exactly that. I will not say it was entirely successful, in fact, perhaps the most disturbing part might be that I just listened to this story and it didn't really mark me. It did remind me of Breaking The Waves, the Lars von Trier movie, which also hammers in the theme of sacrifice, although I don't think it was as well handled here as in that movie. There was no attempt to build up psychologically believable characters, perhaps explained by it being a re-telling of a children's fairytale, but in the end that removed a lot of impact for me.