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Author Topic: EP388: Trixie and the Pandas of Dread  (Read 24496 times)

TheArchivist

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Reply #25 on: March 25, 2013, 01:19:33 PM
Yes Lambear, you are right, absolutely right.  The problem with this story is that it could only really work for someone who at some level thinks that racism is worse than murder, and as you so succinctly say - making it funny doens't make it right.
OK, I shall try to respond in a way that nobody could mistake for confrontational.
I believe this statement makes an invalid assumption. It assumes that a god "smiting" is, in fact, identical to a person committing murder. That would be true if starting from the assumption that gods are merely people, but that is also a (clearly, to my mind) wrong starting point. Even then, the story does not require racism to be worse than smiting, merely just as bad.
Now, given that the story is postulating a (fantasy) universe in which a pantheon of reprehensible gods exists, and that this pantheon can elect to elevate certain (presumably recently deceased) humans to join their ranks, the concept of divine retribution being normal is inherent in that scenario. The question of whether it is appropriate, (which has not actually been considered, merely assumed false) depends on the omniscience and wisdom of the gods in question. If the gods are wise, they will smite wisely and justly. If they are not, their smiting is liable to be arbitrary and not beneficial.
The issue that concerns, indeed depresses, Trixie at the beginning is her residual human frailty and doubt in her wisdom and righteousness. As such she is (arguably quite correctly) reluctant about her role as a goddess. The story's resolution sees her abandon that self-doubt in favour of what the ancient Greeks called "Apatheos" - the property of gods that made them uncaring about the conseuqences of their actions.

So maybe I was wrong before to say this story didn't have a deep, meaningful message. It has the message "choose your gods carefully, because humans don't make good ones". And I think it works both as humour and as bearer of that message even (especially?) if you don't think racism is worse than murder.



pixelante

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Reply #26 on: March 25, 2013, 01:31:58 PM
I loved this story, it had me laughing and cheering all the way to the end. But, there was one sour note in the chorus of hosannas. I just could not help thinking that Trixie and the Pandas of Dread really belonged on Podcastle under the category urban fantasy. The explanation that Trixie's powers were perhaps a product of technology so advanced as to seem like magic was actually an afterthought offered by Allister.



Scumpup

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Reply #27 on: March 25, 2013, 07:49:49 PM
This story didn't work for me.  It wasn't fun.  It wasn't funny.  Re-reading my posts about earlier stories points toward excessive negativity, so I'll just stop with that.



Lambear

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Reply #28 on: March 25, 2013, 08:31:17 PM
TheArchivist-
As for your first post. I'm all for stories that are simply funny for funny's sake. Obviously this is supposed to be a humor piece, but the problem arises in that the story is addressing some serious issues of racism and murder with what I perceive as a very flippant attitude. If they aired a story about some superhero cracking jokes while raping irresponsible moms and at no point in the story is he condemned for his actions, would everyone be ok with that provided it's clearly intended as a funny story? Does him being a superhero that's an alien from another planet and not actually a human make it any better? I hope you see my point.

This may be the worst example ever, but that's why I absolutely hated the movie Hairspray (and got a deal of flack for it from friends), not because it's silly or deals with racism, but because it handles a very sensitive and important issue with not nearly the respect and sobriety I believe it deserves.

Following into your second post: Maybe I'm mistaken, but it seems like the author is condoning the gods' actions. It's one thing to have a universe where despicable (or even morally ambiguous) gods meddle in the affairs of men, it's another thing to tell me they are completely justified in how they behave and when they abuse their power we should laugh.
As for the conclusion you come to in your second post, perhaps you are right. That very well may be the message of the story. If so, I just feel like it could have been (and has been) done better.

Andy C-
Thanks, I think you summed it up pretty well. Like I said, I think the story idea itself is good and the concept is funny (who doesn't like pandas, farting ones especially), but I found its message troubling.

As far as Mur's reading (which was fine as usual) and the reveal of Trixie not being Caucasian, I agree that it was something of a surprise (if there were any hints before I missed them), but it didn't really change things one way or another for me. It certainly didn't justify her actions, though it did explain them to an extent.



Andy C

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Reply #29 on: March 25, 2013, 09:38:06 PM
"choose your gods carefully, because humans don't make good ones".

I'm not sure this was the message of the story, but if it was I'd go with it - thanks Archivist.



JDoug

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Reply #30 on: March 25, 2013, 09:43:53 PM
I liked the 'troubling message'. I mean, isn't that the whole point of the story - happiness comes from being true to yourself, even if that involves making other people unhappy. Or melting their spines. Sometimes you've just got to put yourself first.

Besides, it's not like anyone uses these stories for moral guidance is it. Right?




TheArchivist

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Reply #31 on: March 26, 2013, 09:36:46 AM
the problem arises in that the story is addressing some serious issues of racism and murder with what I perceive as a very flippant attitude.
I really didn't see it that way. Trixie is the goddess of smiting assholes - it happens the assholes we see are racists. As a goddess of smiting, she smites them. Any "addressing issues" is in the ear of the beholder. Yes the tone is "flippant" - it's a humorous piece. I don't think that's a bad thing. Being all outraged and serious about everything may work when talking to serious and outraged people, but humour is very effective at getting people thinking without raising their instinctive hackles. Although perhaps the evidence here is that in some cases it hasn't achieved that.

If they aired a story about some superhero cracking jokes while raping irresponsible moms and at no point in the story is he condemned for his actions, would everyone be ok with that provided it's clearly intended as a funny story? Does him being a superhero that's an alien from another planet and not actually a human make it any better? I hope you see my point.
It's not necessary for the author to blatantly and explicitly condemn the characters. Trixie and the other gods are not portrayed particularly sympathetically (unless you're the sort of person who thinks their generally reprehensible behaviour is perfectly fine) so it's unreasonable to assume there is any implicit praise of ANY of their actions. Reading in approval of smiting racists just because it's not explicitly condemned... strikes me as silly.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but it seems like the author is condoning the gods' actions.
Again, I really can't see how you get that impression.



Devoted135

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Reply #32 on: March 26, 2013, 12:56:30 PM
Hmm, this story was emphatically not for me. It wasn't sci-fi, it wasn't funny (for my funny bone) and the "moral" of the story was reprehensible. Yes, stories have morals whether explicit or not, especially stories that utilize a pantheon of bone-headed "gods."


I liked the 'troubling message'. I mean, isn't that the whole point of the story - happiness comes from being true to yourself, even if that involves making other people unhappy. Or melting their spines. Sometimes you've just got to put yourself first.  

Exactly my point. That's a moral that could never go wrong... ???



Lionman

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Reply #33 on: March 26, 2013, 05:34:08 PM
I was moderately underwhelmed with the story.  Seeing the 'other' side of being a god may have been a bit interesting.  I have to say that I did sort of perfer it to other stories we have heard in the venue with god and pettiness between them.  However, the story did not really evoke a strong emotion for me, therefore it was relatively 'meh' in that regard.

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Lambear

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Reply #34 on: March 26, 2013, 09:38:39 PM
TheArchivist-
I get what you're saying. And admittedly I've read/seen stories with wanton violence that I've found to be very funny. I suppose I just strongly disagree with what I perceived to be the author's moral implications. Clearly, you don't see it the same way. So we'll leave it at that and call it a day. Thanks for the well articulated reply though, you certainly made your case.

I liked the 'troubling message'. I mean, isn't that the whole point of the story - happiness comes from being true to yourself, even if that involves making other people unhappy. Or melting their spines. Sometimes you've just got to put yourself first.

Besides, it's not like anyone uses these stories for moral guidance is it. Right?

Assuming you're not being sarcastic, therein lies the problem. I think that's the worst possible way for a person live. It's bad for family, it's bad for friendships, it's bad for the work environment, and it's just bad in general for society. Sure, a person has to take care of themselves, but specifically so they remain capable of caring for others.

I don't think we should suppose any story is beyond teaching a lesson. People find moral guidance from all sorts of places, and stories are no exception. Heck, throughout history that's been one of the main methods of teaching people morality, through storytelling.



Lisa3737

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Reply #35 on: March 27, 2013, 12:28:59 AM
I thoroughly enjoyed this story!  Sometimes, it is enough just to be entertained with a delightful piece of escapism.



El Barto

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Reply #36 on: March 27, 2013, 02:47:28 AM
I didn't like this story much, mostly because it had nothing to do with science fiction, and this is supposed to be a Flagship podcast for the genre. 

It is hard to understand how things like this get picked.  It is because they are "fun?" 

I'm all for fun science fiction stories but have little interest in fantasy stories - especially when I am expecting the great science fiction usually here.



eytanz

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Reply #37 on: March 27, 2013, 05:35:49 AM
I didn't like this story much, mostly because it had nothing to do with science fiction, and this is supposed to be a Flagship podcast for the genre. 

It is hard to understand how things like this get picked.  It is because they are "fun?" 

I'm all for fun science fiction stories but have little interest in fantasy stories - especially when I am expecting the great science fiction usually here.

The fact that a lot of people in this thread do seem to enjoy the story a lot is a sign that it was correctly chosen. It is not Escape Pod's mission to please all its listeners all the time, or to adhere to a strict definition of Science Fiction story. Mur had made it clear while she was an editor that she'll run occasional fantasy stories (and I'm pretty sure we are still running stories she purchased).

If you don't enjoy a story one week - well then, wait a week, and there will be a different story, at the same price of free.



El Barto

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Reply #38 on: March 27, 2013, 02:31:27 PM
The fact that a lot of people in this thread do seem to enjoy the story a lot is a sign that it was correctly chosen. It is not Escape Pod's mission to please all its listeners all the time, or to adhere to a strict definition of Science Fiction story. Mur had made it clear while she was an editor that she'll run occasional fantasy stories (and I'm pretty sure we are still running stories she purchased).

If leadership looks to the forum to decide which direction to aim the ship, I'm glad I spoke up and I hope more people who feel the same will do the same. 

Looking at the feedback I see that a good chunk of people did not like this story, and multiple people mentioned it not being sci-fi, including Lambear, Infinite Monkey, Devoted135, and myself. 

I do agree that if we wait a week we're likely to get a sci-fi story we do like.  That is why we always return.




Listener

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Reply #39 on: March 27, 2013, 03:20:41 PM
Looking at the feedback I see that a good chunk of people did not like this story, and multiple people mentioned it not being sci-fi, including Lambear, Infinite Monkey, Devoted135, and myself. 

She had a technological device that assisted her in her godding (goddessing?), so I suppose that technically fulfills the sci-fi part.

I didn't mind it so much.

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Talia

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Reply #40 on: March 27, 2013, 03:30:07 PM
The fact that a lot of people in this thread do seem to enjoy the story a lot is a sign that it was correctly chosen. It is not Escape Pod's mission to please all its listeners all the time, or to adhere to a strict definition of Science Fiction story. Mur had made it clear while she was an editor that she'll run occasional fantasy stories (and I'm pretty sure we are still running stories she purchased).

If leadership looks to the forum to decide which direction to aim the ship, I'm glad I spoke up and I hope more people who feel the same will do the same. 

Looking at the feedback I see that a good chunk of people did not like this story, and multiple people mentioned it not being sci-fi, including Lambear, Infinite Monkey, Devoted135, and myself. 

I do agree that if we wait a week we're likely to get a sci-fi story we do like.  That is why we always return.



So why's your opinion more important than the people who did like it?

:P

If you go through all the threads, there are very few that are universally liked, some that are mostly liked, many that draw a mixed reaction, and a relative few that people didn't respond well to. That's because everyone's tastes are different (just like everyone's idea of what "science fiction" is varies....).  All those people you named, it's likely they disliked stories you disliked, and vice versa, so even if Escape Pod renamed to
ElBartoLambearInfiniteMonkeyDevoted135 Pod there'd STILL be stories one or the other of you didn't enjoy. :P

Also, ElBartoLambearInfiniteMonkeyDevoted135 Pod isn't as marketable and won't fit on a t-shirt.






JDoug

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Reply #41 on: March 27, 2013, 05:25:57 PM
Assuming you're not being sarcastic, therein lies the problem. I think that's the worst possible way for a person live. It's bad for family, it's bad for friendships, it's bad for the work environment, and it's just bad in general for society. Sure, a person has to take care of themselves, but specifically so they remain capable of caring for others.

I don't think we should suppose any story is beyond teaching a lesson. People find moral guidance from all sorts of places, and stories are no exception. Heck, throughout history that's been one of the main methods of teaching people morality, through storytelling.

I think she was capable of taking care of others - at the end of the story, Trixie becomes a fairy godmother, which is arguably her first non self-interested act in the story. But the point was that Trixie was unhappy, and that problem was solved by being herself. That didn't necessarily result in her caring less for others - arguably she ended up caring more for other people. Providing they weren't arseholes. Although it's arguably how much caring you expected from a god of smiting....  

(As a more serious point, I do have friends who worried about other peoples welfare more than their own. This is a beautiful, beautiful idea that I would never discourage (to a certain extent, it's a definition of love). But the point I was trying to make (badly at the expense of humour) earlier is that it should never stem from a feeling of low self worth. I do genuinely believe that it is healthy to be selfish sometimes (maybe approximetly 30% of the time)).

In terms of the morality of the story, it's certainly not a fable. I don't think this story was trying to teach a lesson - the manner of deaths and hipster use of technology gave it a fairly flippant feeling. Not to mention the junkyard full of jockstraps. Like seriously, would you base your moral compass on this story? I don't think the author wants you to.  

Stories make great teaching tools. But I'm not sure all stories need to be teaching tools, or viewed in a moral framework. Tha'ts where in horror, it's always the bad guy who dies, or the girl who isn't a virgin, or the jock who's had a drink, despite being underage. It's how you end up with Starship troopers, a film that is unintentionally funny as hell because the book was a facists wet dream (apologies to Heinlein, I overexaggerate). Some books are written as teaching tools and are marvelous for it. I love crime and punishment. Some books are written as teaching tools and are a little bit rubbish (The good man Jesus and the scoundral Christ). Some books are turned into teaching tools, against their authors wishes. I don't think this will be one of them.

This story was a silly story with a light heated message. The main character was about as trigger happy as Django with perhaps slightly less cause. But it was fun, had an ending I didn't expect and entertained me for a good solid 30 minutes on a train into London. That's enough for me.

Plus it led to a rather stupidly long post on my part....
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 05:28:48 PM by JDoug »



eytanz

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Reply #42 on: March 27, 2013, 05:48:32 PM
If leadership looks to the forum to decide which direction to aim the ship, I'm glad I spoke up and I hope more people who feel the same will do the same. 

Looking at the feedback I see that a good chunk of people did not like this story, and multiple people mentioned it not being sci-fi, including Lambear, Infinite Monkey, Devoted135, and myself. 

Well, the thing about the podcast not trying to please all of the people all of the time is - some of the time, you'll be among the some people who are not pleased. Which isn't to say that you shouldn't express negative opinions (there have been plenty of stories I haven't liked, and I've never been shy about saying it - hell, I haven't listened to this one yet, so maybe I'll dislike it too) - it's just that it makes no sense to be surprised that it happens, or state that it's hard to understand. It's pretty easy to understand how stories like this get picked - they get picked because the editors like them, and they think they belong in the podcast.




Lambear

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Reply #43 on: March 27, 2013, 07:00:00 PM
JDoug- Good points! Definitely not all stories have the same intent. But I do think they all have the potential to change us in some way when we consume them, for better or worse.
I would say selfishness is never a good thing, and naturally we're all pretty selfish so I'm more concerned with working against it than making allowances for it, but that's me.
Sadly, I have not yet watched Starship troopers (though I hear it's a riot). I did read the book and found it pretty interesting, though I might not agree with the ideology. I'll have to add it the the queue.

Also, ElBartoLambearInfiniteMonkeyDevoted135 Pod isn't as marketable and won't fit on a t-shirt.

And I both pity and respect the graphic artist who designs that logo!



Kaa

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Reply #44 on: March 27, 2013, 07:02:37 PM
Also, ElBartoLambearInfiniteMonkeyDevoted135 Pod isn't as marketable and won't fit on a t-shirt.

And I both pity and respect the graphic artist who designs that logo!

I would guess they'd go with the EBLIMoDe 135 'cast. I know I would.

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Lambear

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Reply #45 on: March 27, 2013, 08:32:19 PM
I would guess they'd go with the EBLIMoDe 135 'cast. I know I would.

Well played! I'd take that over the Blink 182 'cast any day.



SF.Fangirl

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Reply #46 on: March 27, 2013, 11:59:39 PM
Hmm, this story was emphatically not for me. It wasn't sci-fi, it wasn't funny (for my funny bone) and the "moral" of the story was reprehensible. Yes, stories have morals whether explicit or not, especially stories that utilize a pantheon of bone-headed "gods."

+1.  Was this supposed to be funny?  Because it wasn't.  Was this supposed to be science fiction?  Because it sure didn't seem like it.

And I did think it odd that the groom was not at all upset about the murder/smiting of his mother, sister, and lots of other relative and friends.  Overall my impression of the story was "dumb."



DruidPrince

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Reply #47 on: March 28, 2013, 06:16:24 AM
I really hate being negative, especially being new on here...but this story was a waste of an hour of my life.

The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.
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BrentN

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Reply #48 on: March 29, 2013, 12:31:44 PM
This story was a whole lot of fun. I got the impression that it was as fun for Ms. Foster to write as it was for me to listen to it. I hope so.

I find the kurfuffle about "murder" here in the forums amusing. Is it murder when its divine retribution? Or, I guess I should say Divine Retribution. The capital letters are important, doncha know. As I think someone else pointed out, the Greek deities randomly offed people for much pettier offenses. And after all, if a godhead doesn't allow to smite the $#!+ of some a$$hole who desperately deserves it, then what good is it?



Ansible

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Reply #49 on: March 29, 2013, 02:45:27 PM
As to people who complain that this story was not dark enough.  Just replace "god" with "mutant" and your good to go.  Seems like the process is sufficiently random and naturalistic that gods in this universe are normal. 

Loved the story, maybe mostly because I listened to it while commuting across the 520; a place that could use some holy wrath to keep the traffic flowing. 

The pun run that they had some appreciated, but again maybe that's just me.  "Smile on your lips"  ha how did I miss that one the first time. 

I would love to see more out of this universe, it seemed complex and odd like the Union Dues universe (replace pyramid with god guild or whatever) and the author seems to have developed it and has some basic rules laid down.