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Author Topic: EP400: Rescue Party  (Read 2697 times)
eytanz
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« on: June 18, 2013, 06:40:19 AM »

EP400: Rescue Party

By Arthur C. Clarke

Performed by Norm Sherman

--

Who was to blame? For three days Alveron’s thoughts had come back to that question, and still he had found no answer. A creature of a less civilized or a less sensitive race would never have let it torture his mind, and would have satisfied himself with the assurance that no one could be responsible for the working of fate. But Alveron and his kind had been lords of the Universe since the dawn of history, since that far distant age when the Time Barrier  had been folded round the cosmos by the unknown powers that lay beyond the Beginning. To them had been given all knowledge–and with infinite knowledge went infinite responsibility. If there were mistakes and errors in the administration of the galaxy, the fault lay on the heads of Alveron and his people. And this was no mere mistake: it was one of the greatest tragedies in history.
The crew still knew nothing. Even Rugon, his closest friend and the ship’s deputy captain, had been told only part of the truth. But now the doomed worlds lay less than a billion miles ahead. In a few hours, they would be landing on the third planet.
Once again Alveron read the message from Base; then, with a flick of a tentacle that no human eye could have followed, he pressed the “General Attention” button. Throughout the mile-long cylinder that was the Galactic Survey Ship S9000, creatures of many races laid down their work to listen to the words of their captain.
“I know you have all been wondering,” began Alveron, “why we were ordered to abandon our survey and to proceed at such an acceleration to this region of space. Some of you may realize what this acceleration means. Our ship is on its last voyage: the generators have already been running for sixty hours at Ultimate Overload. We will be very lucky if we return to Base under our own power.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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matweller
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« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2013, 08:18:18 AM »

I just added this to the episode post on EscapePod.org and wanted to make sure it was shared here so important people got the much deserved credit. It was very late when I wrapped this all up last night and I did the post quickly to make sure it would be here for you when dawn hit the East coast in the US.

Quote
Read by Norm Sherman
Performed by Graeme Dunlop as Alveron; Steve Eley as Rugon; Nathaniel Lee as Orostron; Mur Lafferty as Hansur; Paul Haring as Klarten; Alasdair Stewart as Alarkane; Dave Thompson as The Paladorian; Ben Philips as T’sinadree; Jeremiah Tolbert as Tork-a-lee

All sound effects used in this episode were found at FreeSound.org on the pages of the following users: hdesbois; swiftoid; jobro; Syphon64; doubletrigger; cognito perceptu; FreqMan; ReadeOnly; csengeri
- See more at: http://escapepod.org/2013/06/18/ep400-rescue-party/
« Last Edit: June 18, 2013, 09:14:48 AM by matweller » Logged
flintknapper
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« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2013, 12:08:07 PM »

Wow! Great voice cast, but I will be honest. If not for Norm pointing out who did who, I would not even recognize most of them. I assume they were using some digital speech effects on some if not all of the voices.

Loved it. The story is like a relic of our past. The outlook is very much inline with the world's outlook at the time it was written and the technology makes you smile. Aliens come to save us only to find out we are doing fine and don't need saving... I feel warm and fuzzy.

Fortunately there is a cure for that, bring on the next pseudopod episode!
 
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2013, 12:20:19 PM »

Wow, early Clarke.
I kept going back and forth between "This is why I love his books" and "why are the aliens measuring things in conventional measurements (miles, light years, minutes, hours...)"?
Excellent full cast performance, definitely worth waiting forth. Thank you to everybody who worked very hard on this, especially to ant-battling Mat. Just so you guys know, we appreciate it, we really do. Despite snarky comments.

Isn't it convenient that we have ten fingers, so we can celebrate the 400th episode. How weird would it be if we had 8 fingers? Then we'd celebrate the 256th episode. (Us computer geeks celebrated it anyway, don't worry).
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matweller
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2013, 02:25:07 PM »

If we had 8 fingers, would this actually be episode 498? Wait...no...548? Grrrr...base-8 is not natural thinking to me...in a base-8 system, would counting go "...6-7-8-11-12-13..." and "...86-87-88-101-102..."?

Regardless...

Norm was actually a bit worried about the voices all being more similar with the processing, and this was my comment in an email to him:
Quote
Yeah, I was a little antsy about processing the voices all the same, but I like the campy feel of it with an old story, and I also like the fact that bringing them closer together makes differentiating them more a function of each speaker's mannerisms. I predict the passive listeners may be annoyed by it, but the ones that focus on the story will enjoy the story for what it is and maybe also get some fun out of trying to figure out who is who.
My vision behind it (beyond the campy-throwbackishness, I mean, so many robots and aliens in fiction are portrayed as having monotoned, higher-pitched voices) was that they were different races that would likely be able to communicate through some kind of machine, and that machine might process them all similarly.

I kept going back and forth between "This is why I love his books" and "why are the aliens measuring things in conventional measurements (miles, light years, minutes, hours...)"?
I think part of the fun of this one is realizing how dated and narrow-minded yet visionary this story is simultaneously. It grabbed me when I read, "...he pressed the “General Attention” button." These aliens travel galaxies and find our technologies savage for the most part, yet they still have buttons? Probably with labels over them made with one of these friggin' things:

(My apologies to anyone under 30 that has never seen one of those. I'm old.)
« Last Edit: June 18, 2013, 02:36:22 PM by matweller » Logged
silber
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« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2013, 03:02:30 PM »

Happy 400th escapepod!
Loved this.  After listening to "The Star" by Clarke on Drabblecast, it's amazing they are by the same author.

While I appreciate the effort with the vocal effects, I thinkt it would have been cooler without them.  It was probably a lot of work getting all that cast involved but I couldn't tell Mur from Steve from Dave etc.  I just pictured a bunch ofLiliputians.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2013, 03:13:51 PM »

If we had 8 fingers, would this actually be episode 498? Wait...no...548? Grrrr...base-8 is not natural thinking to me...in a base-8 system, would counting go "...6-7-8-11-12-13..." and "...86-87-88-101-102..."?

It's like this: 400=4*10^2 therefore 256=4*8^2
Not real base 8 math, just marking the same milestone, not the same episode.

I think part of the fun of this one is realizing how dated and narrow-minded yet visionary this story is simultaneously. It grabbed me when I read, "...he pressed the “General Attention” button." These aliens travel galaxies and find our technologies savage for the most part, yet they still have buttons? Probably with labels over them made with one of these friggin' things:
(My apologies to anyone under 30 that has never seen one of those. I'm old.)

Yeah, that was a lot of fun.
And for the record, I am under 30 and I know a label maker when I see one. Heck, I've even used one a few times, and an older model than that one.
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Francejackal
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2013, 10:41:38 PM »

It's funny, Alisdair's voice is just one of those that you can pick out no matter what. Also I think Norm Sherman really is up there with Wayne June when it comes to narration (for entirely different reasons of course) I have a tendency to frown when I hear 'Golden Age Sci-Fi' but I think this is a gem. Just the right amount of edge, mystery and intriguing speculation to keep me hooked. I also think the whole cognitive estrangement thing you find in these sort of stories is a bit irksome, it gets a little tedious after a while. It's not too heavy here, but it is one of those things that often makes me cringe away from this type of fiction.
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2013, 06:04:51 AM »

Congrats on 400, and thanks to all of you for doing an awesome job despite the snarkiness we've all been guilty of at one time or another.  Like I tell my kids, we might bicker, buy I still love ya!

Now onto the feedback.

Arthur C. Clark was a fine choice to celebrate the quadricentepisodial.  I did find the voice effects a little irksome at the start, but when I saw how it complimented the atomic age feel of the piece, I lightened up.  You just had to appreciate the story for what it represented.  Listening to this, you can't NOT know that it was written by a human.  The aliens aren't alien at all.  I'm picturing the lot of you (readers) sporting silver jumpsuits with  large, green paper mache alien heads.

I wasn't feeling a lot of tension regarding the rescue of the three aliens, cuz you just knew it was a given.  But I can appreciate how it demonstrates just how timeless and universal it to get in over your head, regardless of your place on the technological ladder.  When the two aliens sat sending out their farewells, I was picturing two humans doing the same thing on smartphones.

That's about all.  I could ramble more, but I won't.  I'll just say thanks to everyone one more time.
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tpi
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« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2013, 07:04:48 AM »

would counting go "...6-7-8-11-12-13..." and "...86-87-88-101-102..."?


No. Those would be base 9, and omiting 10/100. Base 8 counting would go 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-20   and 76-77-100-101

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matweller
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« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2013, 07:40:58 AM »

would counting go "...6-7-8-11-12-13..." and "...86-87-88-101-102..."?


No. Those would be base 9, and omiting 10/100. Base 8 counting would go 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-20   and 76-77-100-101


That does make more sense, thanks! I'm about 14 years away from math class or any math much harder than basic algebra, so I'm a bit rusty. Besides, I don't think I ever had a math class or text that addressed base-X systems with anything more than a passing mention.
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timprov
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« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2013, 01:13:49 PM »

Quote
These aliens travel galaxies and find our technologies savage for the most part, yet they still have buttons?

The room full of punch cards made me smile.  I often wonder if an old Science Fiction pro like Clarke was in awe at how things actually turned out with the technology he tried to see from the 40's and 50's. 
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2013, 01:36:21 PM »

Quote
These aliens travel galaxies and find our technologies savage for the most part, yet they still have buttons?

The room full of punch cards made me smile.  I often wonder if an old Science Fiction pro like Clarke was in awe at how things actually turned out with the technology he tried to see from the 40's and 50's. 

My favorite is when you read through Asimov's REF series (Robots, Empire and Foundation). Asimov does not stress the mundane technology very much in his stories, but the hints are there. The people at USR, particularly our favorite robopsychologist, don't use computers. They have computer technicians who do that for them. Elijah Bailey never uses a computer, but if memory serves he does send requests to the city's/police's computer center. At the beginning of the Foundation the people on Terminus are actually forced into miniaturizing their technology and think outside the box due to lack of resources. For 20,000 years nobody has ever tried to do that, until Foundation. And it ultimately ends with Golan Trevize using his brain via contact points on a desktop surface to control a shipboard computer.
For the record, Caves of Steel was the first book with Elijah Bailey, and it appeared in 1953. The Foundation short stories were originally written between 1942 and 1950. 20,000 years separate those stories, but they show the same level of technology. Foundation's Edge (where we first meet Golan) appeared in 1982, after the microchip.
Interestingly enough, Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation were written in the 1988 and 1993 (respectively). So by that time Asimov had seen a lot of technological improvement, and it shows in those two books. The apparent discontinuity of tech level is explained by the collapse of civilization across the galaxy, and fits very nicely with the overarching plot, but it is still very interesting to see.
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flintknapper
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« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2013, 02:20:29 PM »

Maybe it is the anthropologist in me, but I could see an ethnohistorian studying how past views of the future inform upon a specific culture's societal outlooks. Perhaps someone already has... I would be curious if anyone knows.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2013, 02:29:52 PM »

Maybe it is the anthropologist in me, but I could see an ethnohistorian studying how past views of the future inform upon a specific culture's societal outlooks. Perhaps someone already has... I would be curious if anyone knows.

I think I might have read something similar on comic books, specifically superhero comic books. This was several years ago and the only thing I remember is the blond, blue-eyed Captain America supersoldier here to save the day, originally conceived during the second world war. Hardly a coincidence.
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benjaminjb
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« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2013, 03:14:18 PM »

Congrats on reaching 400--it was a fun ride with voices that I couldn't really identify unless I concentrated.

Maybe it is the anthropologist in me, but I could see an ethnohistorian studying how past views of the future inform upon a specific culture's societal outlooks. Perhaps someone already has... I would be curious if anyone knows.

I'm a little confused about the scope of this question. I mean, when you say "past view of the future," I think you're including something like "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Jonathan Edwards's 1741 sermon on how Hell is in your (personal) future or, heck, the Book of Revelation--but maybe you don't want to. I'm not just trolling by bringing up religious imagery vis-a-vis views of the future; I think we could make a strong argument for the relationship of imagining other worlds/imagining the next world. But like I said, I don't think that's what you mean.

But do you mean something like "Star Trek: TOS gave us a recognizable form for cellphones"? Or something like "with its negative view of the monster, Frankenstein--along with religious movements and the Romantic movement that deemphasized the mechanical and the physical--set the stage for our persistant technophobia"?

(And let's keep in mind the problems of considering culture as a homogenous monolith. Especially when we're talking about sf, which has had a certain Anglo-American bent but also a certain internationalism.) [end soapbox]

But I am curious what you mean / how this story made you think of this question.
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2013, 05:04:50 PM »

Great job, guys - I really enjoyed it and the production on the voices was outstanding - lots of fun, a solid story and even an uplifting ending with a nicely ambiguous last line!
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flintknapper
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« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2013, 05:17:38 PM »

Fair question Ben. I guess I am thinking about how this story deals with the fall of earth coming from natural instead of man-made disasters, how the problem is solved by man's ever increasing use of technology, and how man as a species is self-reliant impressing even those technologically superior. These are in line with a late 40s and early 50s mindset before the harsh realities of nuclear holocaust and the counter culture of the 1960s.

I would even go so far as to say Clarke's mention of de-urbanization demonstrates his own negative views of urban centers in the late 1940s. He was not alone in this view. Many believed this. Replace the fantastic elements from his story and you have a really fascinating time in western culture. In 1946, at the time of his writing, he is watching a mass migration out of inner cities by the middle and upper class to the suburbs.

I hope that makes some sense as to what I was thinking... but maybe not. It is late in the day.

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Windup
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« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2013, 08:50:15 PM »


I really enjoyed this as a "period piece," like "Gun for Dinosaur." 

I noticed the punch cards and the vacuum tubes, but the anachronistic element that jumped out at me was very early in the story.  We have a star-faring, nearly-omniscient species, which is apparently still organized as a hierarchical bureaucracy, and its first concern when explaining the impending disaster is: "It's not our organization's fault!!"   Shocked

Though admittedly, unlike the punchcards and vacuum tubes, we have yet to prove we can get past that...

I'm also not sure I completely agree with Norm's assessment of the story as an "optimistic" work.  Some of the foreshadowing between the aliens at the end suggests that the encounter between humanity and the star-faring species did not have an entirely happy outcome.  At least that's how I heard it...

BUT, no question that it was a great story and a worthy production for EP400.  Thanks, to all involved...
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kibitzer
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« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2013, 10:47:53 PM »

The aliens aren't alien at all.  I'm picturing the lot of you (readers) sporting silver jumpsuits with  large, green paper mache alien heads.

Fun fact: Matt actually sent each of us a large green paper-mache alien head to wear whilst narrating. That's what made this one special to narrate.
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