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Author Topic: EP194: Exhalation  (Read 28686 times)

eytanz

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Reply #50 on: August 13, 2009, 07:23:53 AM
I've raved about this story before; in my opinion, for anyone else to have won the hugo this year would have been ridiculous. Of course, this does not diminish the accomplishment here, but the reverse.



Agricola

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Reply #51 on: September 13, 2009, 01:36:45 PM
Magnificent writing and performance both. A real stand out of an EP. Why? I enjoy many episodes but I return to this one and even after several listens, it holds up.

"...to take apart the system of illusions and deception which functions to prevent understanding of contemporary reality ... requires the kind of normal skepticism and willingness to apply one's analytical skills that almost all people have and that they can exercise." Noam Chomsky


ILikeMostCheeses

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Reply #52 on: September 28, 2009, 04:36:36 AM
My favorite three lit podcasts are EP, PseudoPod, and The Sherlock Holmes London Society.
This story will not be deleted from my Zune. Love it. Had to pull over on the drive to work to listen and pay attention to the final 15 minutes, it was such a compelling piece. Was 10 minutes late, didn't care.



Swamp

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Reply #53 on: January 28, 2010, 08:15:55 PM
Wow, how did this story manage to slip through my fingers.  I orginally missed it because of my travels for work.  But I thought I had gone back and listened to everything I had missed.  Aparently not.

I am so happy to have rediscoved this absolute gem.  Very, very good story.  It triggers the imagination, geeks out on science, explores cool concepts, and makes one think about one's own existance.  It epitomizes science fiction!  My appraisal of Ted Chaing has skyrocketed.  Of course this won the Hugo.

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Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


Heradel

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Reply #54 on: January 28, 2010, 09:37:57 PM
Wow, how did this story manage to slip through my fingers.  I orginally missed it because of my travels for work.  But I thought I had gone back and listened to everything I had missed.  Aparently not.

I am so happy to have rediscoved this absolute gem.  Very, very good story.  It triggers the imagination, geeks out on science, explores cool concepts, and makes one think about one's own existance.  It epitomizes science fiction!  My appraisal of Ted Chaing has skyrocketed.  Of course this won the Hugo.

And, incidentally, Small Beer press said they were going to bring his quite excellent short story collection (Stories of Your Life and Others) back into print today: http://smallbeerpress.com/not-a-journal/2010/01/28/stories-of-your-life/

Which is a good thing, because it's going for $50+ on Amazon right now. Luckily for me the NYPL has it (though I will likely be buying this as well).

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Unblinking

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Reply #55 on: April 20, 2010, 05:02:11 PM
This story was amazing!  A contender for my #1 favorite EP episode (though that would require a grudge match with Friction), and probably in my top 5 short stories ever.

It really surprises me how much I like this, actually, since from a distance it seems to be the didactic hard SF that so often bore me in the big magazines.  But, really, it was great in every way.  The narrator did a great job reading it.  The oddity of these creatures and this world was given in digestible portions while the story unfolded WHILE not straying from the protagonists point of view.  The science was not just for the sake of science but also gave purpose to the character, an understanding of their world, and even philosophy of the mind. 

Especially compelling was the concept that the entire world is run by a long exhale from some higher power--following that idea further might imply that there will be a renewal of the world on the next breath (perhaps when someone realizes they've been neglecting these bots and renews the tank). 

I tend to get a little bored with scientist protagonists in classic stories (and this has a classic feel to it, in a good way).  Most scientist characters just aren't that interesting, they're smart in some generically defined way, and they come up with some clever solution to the problem to avert disaster at the last minute.  But THIS guy is not only smart, he's also got GUTS in a major way.  It takes some major courage to dissect your own brain.  Although it also requires your drive to learn to be more powerful than your concern for yourself and others.  What if he'd accidentally damaged his brain in a way that blocked the airflow to certain areas, he could have come out of there with psychopathic behaviors and harmed his fellow creatures.  I'm glad it didn't go that way, but I'm just sayin...

One thing that I did wonder about, though, is no one seemed to consider simplifying their life to prolong it.  For instance:  do they need so many clocks?  Presumably the clocks expend energy to run, so if you knew that every tick was a slice off of your life when you'd previously thought your life more or less indefinite, wouldn't it drive you nuts?



bbienvenue

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Reply #56 on: October 06, 2010, 11:12:22 PM
Greetings all,

I'm very late to the game here and basically writing because I want to get some more free fiction, but hopefully I'll try and become a bit involved in the forums. I'm posting on this story since this is still one of my favorite Escape Pod stories and one that I push on innocent bystanders every chance I get.

I occasionally teach an undergraduate course on cognitive science at a school in upstate New York. The last time I taught the course I added a set of readings I called "cognitive science fiction." Basically, for each week's topic I assigned a technical reading covering the research into the field and also an optional fun reading, a piece of science fiction that delved into the issue from a literary perspective. We read some of Stanislaw Lem's Cyberiad, some Asimov robot stories, some William Gibson and also some not-quite science fiction like Borges and Julio Cortazar. I also included some Escape Pod stories that were relevant to various topics.

Ted Chiang's _Exhalation_ went with a section on dynamic systems and cognition. Even after all my lectures on the neuroscience of the mind and the scientific data on how thought is represented in human brains (and other systems), I had a couple students tell me that the passage on the dissection and the description of air moving the gold foil leaves was when they finally "got" what I had been going on about all semester. I also had several students tell me this was one of the best readings in the class and that they were hooked on Escape Pod as a result.

So, thank you Ted Chiang for teaching my students what I could not, and thank you Escape Pod for bringing it to me! I haven't been vocal, but I have loved you from afar.



Swamp

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Reply #57 on: October 06, 2010, 11:40:33 PM
Ted Chiang's _Exhalation_ went with a section on dynamic systems and cognition. Even after all my lectures on the neuroscience of the mind and the scientific data on how thought is represented in human brains (and other systems), I had a couple students tell me that the passage on the dissection and the description of air moving the gold foil leaves was when they finally "got" what I had been going on about all semester. I also had several students tell me this was one of the best readings in the class and that they were hooked on Escape Pod as a result.

I've thought of it as a great intelligent story from an entertainment perspective.  That it works for teaching cognitive science is very, very cool.

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


19lettersinmyname

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Reply #58 on: March 14, 2012, 03:54:09 AM
loved it! a master work, but I agree the little epilogue at the end went on too long. inspiring nonetheless! ;D



Piet

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Reply #59 on: December 30, 2013, 02:40:03 AM
Amazing story. Wonderfully simple way of elucidating the idea of entropy and heat death, hints of other universes, exploration of philosophy of mind. Good stuff!

A number of the preceding comments refer to the poignant scene where the protagonist operates on his own brain. The term auto-dissection was used in several of these comments. A more accurate term is auto-vivisection. There's a compelling term one doesn't have cause to think about very often!

It's not the destination...it's the glory of the ride.


Unblinking

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Reply #60 on: July 08, 2014, 10:18:49 PM
Named this story #9 on my Best Podcast Fiction of All Time List:
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/07/the-best-podcast-fiction-of-all-time-the-complete-list/



luka datas

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Reply #61 on: September 14, 2014, 12:21:10 AM
second only to 'Understand'.  Although understand is a novella or novellette or some such thing and probably won't fit on epod.  I can't understand how it didn't win all the awards in 91.



dSlacker

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Reply #62 on: November 07, 2014, 12:23:09 PM
Great story, puts the 'science' back in 'SciFi'.

One point that no one mentioned, so I'm actually wondering whether I may have an incorrect recollection, is why wouldn't they explore the 'reservoir' that the use to refill their lungs and that is the source of the pressure difference?

While listening to the story, my impression of the reservoir was more like a steam vent in the earth's surface rather than a tank.

Also, one of the main character's hopes / speculations in the end was for a tunnel to connect different worlds.

What if the 'reservoir' was the entrance to such a tunnel?