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Author Topic: EP099: Start the Clock  (Read 13050 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: March 29, 2007, 07:32:10 AM »

EP099: Start the Clock

By Benjamin Rosenbaum.
Read by Chris Fisher (of The Adult Space Childfree Podcast).
First appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 2004.

Frankly, we were excited. This move was what our Pack needed — the four of us, at least, were sure of it. We were all tired of living in the ghetto — we were in three twentieth-century townhouses in Billings, in an “age-mixed” area full of marauding Thirteens and Fourteens and Fifteens. Talk about a people damned by CDAS — when the virus hit them, it had stuck their pituitaries and thyroids like throttles jammed open. It wasn’t just the giantism and health problems caused by a thirty-year overdose on growth hormones, testosterone, estrogen, and androgen. They suffered more from their social problems — criminality, violence, orgies, jealousy — and their endless self-pity.

Okay, Max liked them. And most of the rest of us had been at least entertained by living in the ghetto. At birthday parties, we could always shock the other Packs with our address. But that was when all eight of us were there, before Katrina and Ogbu went south. With eight of us, we’d felt like a full Pack — invincible, strong enough to laugh at anyone.


Rated R. Contains graphic sexual content and children who are a bit too grown up. Literally..


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RichGarner
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2007, 08:52:05 PM »

Maybe I'm a little too conservative... but I was a little disturbed by this story.

I think the concept of stopping the biological clock is unique and interesting, but I'm not sure about stopping it age 14 or 9 or especially 3. And hearing/reading/imagining a conversation between 9 year olds regarding sex just makes me feel all nasty... but not in the good way.

However, I was hooked on the story and I was very interested in finding Abby and hearing about her motives for going stealth.

Also, I would pay BIG money to live in a pirate ship!
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mt house
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2007, 03:15:42 AM »

This story hit home for me. As a parent of a 7 and a 9, I'm always saying "I just want them to stop where they are, not toddlers, not teenagers...". I guess I should be careful what I wish for! Oh, to be 9 forever, what a great concept! Sort of a darker version of Peter Pan. Once again, great work!
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Simon Painter
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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2007, 03:19:57 AM »

Another good one  Smiley

I enjoyed this one very much, interesting ideas well told.  Good reading again, as always Smiley

Something I've been wondering about though, on a slight side-note, is the American rating system.  It's used here for Escape Pod episodes, and I can't follow it at all, what exactly is an 'R' rating? Is that the same as a UK 15 or 18?

Simon Painter
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Alasdair5000
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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2007, 03:40:37 AM »

   This was excellent Smiley  I got a similar kick out of this to Cory Doctorow's Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom, the same sort of feeling of being dropped into the middle of a world and slowly finding your way to the edges.  The subtleties of character here are wonderful, with the 'kids' all too aware of what they are but at the same time incapable of acting any other way. 
   What really got me though was how well defined the relationships were.  Without a single 'So tell me, what is a microscope?' style piece of exposition we got a very clear view of a very complex set of relationships, sketched out effectively and subtly.  Add in the central fascinating but more than a little disturbing idea and this is a real winner.  Great story, well read.
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RichGarner
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2007, 10:41:30 AM »

The American rating system goes something like this:

G = General Audiences (Families, kids, all ages)
PG = Parental Guidance (Maybe some questionable language and/or violence... parental guidance suggested)
PG13 = Ages 13 and older (Stronger language, violence, sexual content and questionable material)
R = Restricted (Under 17 not allowed without parent or guardian)
x = Adult (Under 17 not allowed)

It works well for this podcast. I'm a faithful Christian and I try to limit the language and sexual content that I digest. This helps me decide what stories I download.
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Simon Painter
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2007, 10:58:51 AM »

Thanks Rich, I'd been wondering about the American system.  I hear it talked about a great deal on the internet, but never really knew where the divsions lay.

It appears to actually be quite a bit more lenient than the UK system, I head of film-makers desparately editing to avoid the X-rating, which is actually less serious than the UK's 18-rating!

One more question (if I'm not getting badly off-topic here?) what does 'unrated' mean? is that the same as the 'Exempt' rating used in the UK for Documentaries and Concerts?

Simon Painter
Shropshire, UK
« Last Edit: March 30, 2007, 11:00:23 AM by madSimonJ » Logged

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RichGarner
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2007, 11:37:31 AM »

Unrated means that it has been been reviewed by the American Picture Association. In my experience, most of the unrated videos tend to be more graphically violent and sexually intense than the R rating would imply. I think most video distributors voluntarily forgo the rating process for fear of getting an X rating... which would prevent their products from being sold in most stores.
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DKT
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2007, 12:11:36 PM »

This story hit home for me. As a parent of a 7 and a 9, I'm always saying "I just want them to stop where they are, not toddlers, not teenagers...". I guess I should be careful what I wish for! Oh, to be 9 forever, what a great concept! Sort of a darker version of Peter Pan. Once again, great work!

You've said it much better than I ever could.  Great story.
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DKT
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2007, 12:15:45 PM »

Unrated means that it has been been reviewed by the American Picture Association. In my experience, most of the unrated videos tend to be more graphically violent and sexually intense than the R rating would imply. I think most video distributors voluntarily forgo the rating process for fear of getting an X rating... which would prevent their products from being sold in most stores.

Just to clarify, I think Rich means unrated has not been reviewed by the MPAA. 

On a side-note, there's a documentary out on DVD now about the MPAA called "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," which questions the credibility of the MPAA.  The MPAA rated the documentary NC-17 (which is basically the same thing as an X-rating). 
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Jim
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2007, 12:19:57 PM »

I like the allegorical nature of the story, the idea that communities and cultures develop around conditions and disabilities, and that leaving the condition or disability behind can lessen one's connection to that community.

(Life of Brian: "Spare a talent for an old ex-leper?")

I like that the characters react emotionally to a hot-button issue, the way people do in reality, and are conflicted about the implications of their own choices, attitudes, and beliefs.

I wonder if they ended up selling the pirate ship and taking the mansion.

It occurred to me that this story is kind of like Children of Men but in reverse. Instead of no children, there are children who don't grow up at all. What if there were a mix of the two worlds... no new children are born, while hundreds of thousands of existing children stop growing up? Now there's a weird concept. Might be a good Star Trek episode.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2007, 12:23:51 PM by Jim » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2007, 12:40:46 PM »

Quote
It occurred to me that this story is kind of like Children of Men but in reverse. Instead of no children, there are children who don't grow up at all. What if there were a mix of the two worlds... no new children are born, while hundreds of thousands of existing children stop growing up? Now there's a weird concept. Might be a good Star Trek episode.

I like that juxtaposition, Jim.  I hadn't thought of it before but it's a very interesting one. 

Has anyone else read Jonathan Lethem's Gun, With Occassional Music?  I was reminded of the babyheads in that book, but it's been a long time since I read it.
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slic
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« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2007, 01:09:15 PM »

Quote from: Jim
I wonder if they ended up selling the pirate ship and taking the mansion
I'm sure they did - right at the end, she asked the "old Lady" to show them the Mansion instead - though not explictedly stated, I don't think the "old Lady" would have held them to the pirateship contract.
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slic
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« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2007, 01:18:30 PM »

Quote from: madSimonJ
...I head of film-makers desparately editing to avoid the X-rating, which is actually less serious than the UK's 18-rating!
That's true - but mainly because many, many theatres refuse to show NC-17 movies (there American rating system no longer has an X rating - it's NC-17 (no children under 17).
What's really interesting is that movies with massive violence have an easier time than those with sexual content.


On a weird tangent - when I hear NC-17 - I'm always thinking of an X-rated USS Enterprise... Shocked
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davedoty
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« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2007, 01:55:51 PM »

I can't believe I'm using my first post to discuss the US movie rating system instead of the story....

The MPAA originally undermined their own "X" rating.  They trademarked all of their ratings except "X" so that anyone who used the other ratings without permission could be sued, but anyone could use the "X" rating without permission.  Obviously, a certain industry used the X heavily, and theaters refused to carry any legitimate films with an X because of the stigma.

So, the MPAA deliberately undermined the upper spectrum of the industry, destroying it instead of just labelling it for years.

Ironically, once the "G" movies were clearly rated and became labelled as just kids movies, fewer teens and adults went to see that kind of movie than previously.  So the rating system tended to skew the industry towards the middle, rather than towards the bottom as people sometimes assume.
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RichGarner
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« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2007, 02:07:06 PM »

Unrated means that it has been been reviewed by the American Picture Association. In my experience, most of the unrated videos tend to be more graphically violent and sexually intense than the R rating would imply. I think most video distributors voluntarily forgo the rating process for fear of getting an X rating... which would prevent their products from being sold in most stores.

Just to clarify, I think Rich means unrated has not been reviewed by the MPAA. 



Yes. What you said. Keyboard not cooperating.. brain logic subroutine missing... words misplaced.
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Jim
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« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2007, 07:52:55 PM »

Clockwork Orange was originally rated "X."

When I lived in Louisville, I used to walk past this old closed-down theater that for some reason had this huge old Clockwork Orange poster in the window, and down in the corner was the original "X" rating.
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Josh
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« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2007, 11:51:15 PM »

Adult minds in the bodies of children huh? That's kinda the opposite of what it is today, isn't it?
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wakela
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« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2007, 08:30:43 AM »

Really cool story.  The setting is real and complex, a real slice of live that feels like it begins before we start listening and continues after we were done.  I would love to read/hear more stories set in this world.  A lesser writer would have gone for either cute or shocking, but Rosenbaum pulls off both along with scary, funny, serious, and sad.  It's definitely creepy, but I don't feel like I was being manipulated.

My only criticism is that the story feels like it was about the search for the little girl (Abbey?).  It builds up to the moment when they find her.  I understand the rest of the story is necessary for Rosenbaum to say what he wanted to say about family, friends, communities, being different, etc, but it feels like an epilogue that keeps going.  It isn't dull, but I found that I wasn't investing as much of my attention because I thought it would end at any second.

But, still I really enjoyed this one.
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ClintMemo
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« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2007, 09:14:22 AM »

Clockwork Orange was originally rated "X."

When I lived in Louisville, I used to walk past this old closed-down theater that for some reason had this huge old Clockwork Orange poster in the window, and down in the corner was the original "X" rating.

Hey!  I still live in Louisville (KY), Which theater? Just curious.  (I'm guessing the Vogue).

On the subject of movie ratings - When they made the Southpark movie, Matt and Trey tried to put in more violence and gore in one of the later scenes than an R would allow.  They failed.  The only thing they were forced to change to get an R rating was to change a penis to a dildo, which they then used as a joke in the movie!  The MPAA is much more concerned about sex than violence.

I also have some issues with R ratings.  It bothers me when I see people taking toddlers to R rated movies. The kind of imagery that is in these movies is too intense for kids that age.

The PG-13 rating was created in the early 80's as a result of the movie "Gremlins." It was rated "PG."  Parents brought their kids to see it, thinking it was another "E.T.", having been made by Steven Speilberg, but were horrified when they started desroying monsters in a blender.  It wasn't intense enough to get an "R", but much more intense than "E.T.".
PG-13 is the ratings goal for the studios. The studios want teenagers in the theater and they can't always get into R rated movies and generally avoid PG movies as being too cutesy. Sometimes you'll get someone that will intentionally go against that, like the Matrix movies, but not too often.
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