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Author Topic: EP412: Thirty Seconds From Now  (Read 15302 times)

rlzack

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Reply #25 on: September 20, 2013, 05:05:24 PM
Was there ever a solid reason given for why Tony's future didn't really change much? It was a neat idea and I can definitely see the appeal to someone living in a constant state of sense-flux, but who is really that stable / deterministic in their life choices?

My take on this is that there were two assumptions made during the story.

  • Scott can see futures
  • Tony is (mostly) a constant in those futures

The story's impact depends on both assumptions. And as assumptions, neither needs explaining.



jpv

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Reply #26 on: September 20, 2013, 05:11:49 PM
My take on this is that there were two assumptions made during the story.

  • Scott can see futures
  • Tony is (mostly) a constant in those futures

The story's impact depends on both assumptions. And as assumptions, neither needs explaining.
Fair enough from the point of view of it as a short story. The story works perfectly well without ever knowing for sure why it is that he's constant, the entire idea is that he's constant / it ends / Scott goes for it anyways.

But once you get past the story, it does make me think. Either why is he constant or why aren't others? One possibility is that Tony is a 'sheep' / reactionary. Not necessarily in a bad way, just that he tends to be far more static, always reacting the same way to situations. I can certainly see the appeal, particularly to someone like Scott. But then why aren't others the same way?

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rlzack

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Reply #27 on: September 20, 2013, 05:26:31 PM
Quote
Why is Tony constant?

Perhaps a better question to ask is, What is special about Tony that he has a constant future?

My thought is that Tony is so sure of who he is, where he is going, what he wants, however you want to say it, that his future is fairly well ordained. The one time he fails is when he is shocked by Scott's revelation, and we can forgive him some for losing control at that point.



quasidoza

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Reply #28 on: September 22, 2013, 05:02:08 PM
I think reason why Tony is constant is unimportant but it means for Scott it's a binary choice - Love and lose or never love.

It has to be a homosexual relationship in a way. It would have such different connotations if Tony might be smacking a girl around, lot harder to put it down to frustrations.  Society views male on female violence differently to male on male or female on male for various reasons.

Ironic lots of the posts are highlighting the seamless integration of the gay relationship but yes I agree.



Kaa

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Reply #29 on: September 22, 2013, 05:02:28 PM
I really enjoyed this one. Everyone's said almost everything about it by now, so I can only do the "me, too" thing. Except I don't think anyone's mentioned the unique POV that I've never heard in any story that I can think of (he said, caveating like mad (yes, it's word (now))). Third-person future tense. That hooked me in and kept me listening until the second or third sentence, when the story itself grabbed me. :)

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InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #30 on: September 23, 2013, 01:21:39 AM

It has to be a homosexual relationship in a way. It would have such different connotations if Tony might be smacking a girl around, lot harder to put it down to frustrations.  Society views male on female violence differently to male on male or female on male for various reasons.

Ironic lots of the posts are highlighting the seamless integration of the gay relationship but yes I agree.

Just as important, it makes it seems more understandable for Scott to be "closeted" and security-conscious. And have him seem a little less strange and inexplicable to others, in ways a heterosexual protagonist would not.



alwaysblack

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Reply #31 on: September 24, 2013, 11:23:50 PM
It has to be a homosexual relationship in a way. It would have such different connotations if Tony might be smacking a girl around, lot harder to put it down to frustrations.  Society views male on female violence differently to male on male or female on male for various reasons.

I don't want to be the leadfooted noob on my first day, but what you said was just wrong. The society I want to live in thinks violence in any relationship is bad times.

Fair enough, it's part of the story, but I can't see how it works better because it's a gay relationship.

"If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"


alwaysblack

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Reply #32 on: September 24, 2013, 11:31:55 PM
Actually, there was a lot about this story that just set my teeth on edge. At first, I thought it was guilty of being a subclass of the 'it was all a dream' trope, but on further reflection I think I was more depressed by its Cassandra complex fatalism.

I guess I have old-fashioned tastes when it comes to story, but I like my outcomes to grow out of the protagonists choices where the consequences are his/her risk, where the point to this one seemed to be that the narrator had no power to choose his outcome even when he knew what the consequences were.

This was the perfect, exact, opposite of what I like in a story.  ;D

"If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"


TheArchivist

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Reply #33 on: September 25, 2013, 09:11:11 AM
I guess I have old-fashioned tastes when it comes to story, but I like my outcomes to grow out of the protagonists choices where the consequences are his/her risk, where the point to this one seemed to be that the narrator had no power to choose his outcome even when he knew what the consequences were.
Yeah, I see that too. Actually I'm surprised by how many people are so willing to simply ignore the incoherence of the story's second assumption, purely because it was needed as a device. It gets fairly well established that any uncertainty leads to severe fuzziness in Scott's perception (the description of the bean bags makes that clear), and yet Tony is crystal clear and solid. The only possible justification is that Tony's actions in detail are predetermined and cast in stone. Nobody is that predictable! And if Scott had any choice in the matter of whether to accept the future he sees, then that future would not be clear. So we are left with a protagonist who takes no action and makes no choice.

I kept waiting for the revelation that would explain Tony's anomolous existence in a way that made any sort of sense. It never turned up.



alwaysblack

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Reply #34 on: September 25, 2013, 09:28:38 AM
I thought Tony was going to turn out to be precognitive too and they were cancelling each other out.

"If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"


chemistryguy

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Reply #35 on: September 25, 2013, 12:13:48 PM
I guess I have old-fashioned tastes when it comes to story, but I like my outcomes to grow out of the protagonists choices where the consequences are his/her risk, where the point to this one seemed to be that the narrator had no power to choose his outcome even when he knew what the consequences were.
Yeah, I see that too. Actually I'm surprised by how many people are so willing to simply ignore the incoherence of the story's second assumption, purely because it was needed as a device. It gets fairly well established that any uncertainty leads to severe fuzziness in Scott's perception (the description of the bean bags makes that clear), and yet Tony is crystal clear and solid. The only possible justification is that Tony's actions in detail are predetermined and cast in stone. Nobody is that predictable! And if Scott had any choice in the matter of whether to accept the future he sees, then that future would not be clear. So we are left with a protagonist who takes no action and makes no choice.

I kept waiting for the revelation that would explain Tony's anomolous existence in a way that made any sort of sense. It never turned up.

It does stand to reason even if Scott has predetermined exactly what he wants to do, there's still thousands of choices that Tony has to make over the course of their relationship.

So here's a thought.  It isn't that Tony is some totally predictable anomaly in a sea of possibilities.  It's that Scott has closed himself off to all but one path.  His love (for want of a better word) of Tony has given him temporal tunnel vision.   

Does anyone buy that?  Anyone?  Eh, I tried.


alwaysblack

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Reply #36 on: September 25, 2013, 12:35:58 PM
I don't think I can buy into that. The beanbags fall according to the actions Scott takes, their possibilities are variable because he can influence their futures. He can base his decisions on what he has seen of their possible futures. Tony does not get the same rules, the question is what changes the rules? If it's love, then the lesson becomes that we are compelled (like, with physics) to follow it's course /even when we know/ that the outcome is abusive. That I find obnoxious. It's one thing to stick to a bad relationship because you've deluded yourself it will get better, it's another to suggest that you must because of unseen, unexplained forces that transcend willpower, cause and effect.

It's downright... dis-empowering.

"If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"


Kaa

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Reply #37 on: September 25, 2013, 01:22:30 PM
I don't want to be the leadfooted noob on my first day, but what you said was just wrong. The society I want to live in thinks violence in any relationship is bad times.

Well, I think you said it right there. The society you want to live in thinks that way. The society we do live in, however, has certain inconsistencies. It's very not okay for a man to be violent to a woman (a view, by the way, that's quite recent in terms of history), but we view man/man, woman/woman, and woman/man violence differently. We just do. We shouldn't, but it is what it is.

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matweller

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Reply #38 on: September 25, 2013, 01:26:05 PM
So here's a thought.  It isn't that Tony is some totally predictable anomaly in a sea of possibilities.  It's that Scott has closed himself off to all but one path.  His love (for want of a better word) of Tony has given him temporal tunnel vision.   
This was pretty much my take on it. I wouldn't call it pre-determination or fixed fate or anything like that, I would say that from the moment Scott saw Tony, he decided on some level of consciousness that this was how it was going to play out no matter what. I think that's why Tony blurred at that moment of confrontation -- because it was the one spot where Scott became unsure of what he might do, what decisions he might make that could cause divergence.

...the lesson becomes that we are compelled (like, with physics) to follow it's course /even when we know/ that the outcome is abusive. That I find obnoxious. It's one thing to stick to a bad relationship because you've deluded yourself it will get better, it's another to suggest that you must because of unseen, unexplained forces that transcend willpower, cause and effect.

It's downright... dis-empowering.
I think it's more a statement of our condition as beings that realize that experience has an absolute value. Which is to say that positives and negatives all go into the sum of our being and that sometimes denying the negative for the sake of convenience can negate some of the value of the positive.

This is a kid who has lived his life into his college years with a severely limited amount of human contact because of his condition. Think about it in that light, and actually the negative of a disappointing ending is infinitely outweighed by so much as a week of what normal people would consider mediocre. The blessing of that 6 months of constancy alone would be a positive; actual happy moments during that time would be deep-in-the-soul blissful joy.



alwaysblack

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Reply #39 on: September 25, 2013, 01:50:09 PM
Nah, it's all too muddy to be satisfied with the idea of a hopeless trade off. Was there any implication that Scott could choose not to have this relationship and stay as he was? (If there was and I missed it then I'll stand corrected).
For me, if the point of the story doesn't come directly from the protagonists will then it isn't a story, it's just some shit that happened.


"If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"


alwaysblack

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Reply #40 on: September 25, 2013, 01:58:59 PM
I don't want to be the leadfooted noob on my first day, but what you said was just wrong. The society I want to live in thinks violence in any relationship is bad times.

Well, I think you said it right there. The society you want to live in thinks that way. The society we do live in, however, has certain inconsistencies. It's very not okay for a man to be violent to a woman (a view, by the way, that's quite recent in terms of history), but we view man/man, woman/woman, and woman/man violence differently. We just do. We shouldn't, but it is what it is.

In your opinion, how would the story have been different if the relationship had been one of those other combinations of gender?

"If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"


matweller

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Reply #41 on: September 25, 2013, 03:00:06 PM
Then prepare to be happy, this is a story!

Quote
Right now, the bean bag thunks into Scott’s left palm. His eyes still itch and he feels the grief he’ll feel again at the end of the semester. A ghost Scott moves to shut the dorm room door. If he closes the door, he and Tony will never meet. Tony will never learn how to hurt Scott in a way that only he can be hurt. Tony will never hurt him in a way that anyone can be hurt. - See more at: http://escapepod.org/2013/09/05/ep412-thirty-seconds-from-now/#sthash.9XonngZQ.dpuf

Could. Didn't. That's will, my friend.



alwaysblack

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Reply #42 on: September 25, 2013, 03:20:38 PM
Yeah, you're right, I must've blotted it out.

In my defence,  the rest of the story harps on about Tony's inevitability despite Scott's superpowers, so it's still muddy.

Just wasn't for me this one.

"If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"


TheArchivist

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Reply #43 on: September 25, 2013, 04:42:17 PM
Yeah, you're right, I must've blotted it out.

In my defence,  the rest of the story harps on about Tony's inevitability despite Scott's superpowers, so it's still muddy.
In your defence, the line was too little too late. Yeah, there was an afterthought that tried to hint at the choice so miserably lacking from the whole narrative up until then, but it was merely tacked in right near the end as if the earlier problems could just be forgotten. As a reader I won't accept that. The author and I have an implied contract whereby he tells me a coherent, consistent story in which he may be economical with the truth, but he will not downright lie to me. Filling in a final twist that relies on the bulk of the story simply being untrue is not good writing, and I would go so far as to argue that the solidity of Tony's future (remember: even to the detail of individual comments) is portrayed so strongly that to claim Scott even had that choice makes the whole narrative a downright lie.

Sorry, personal bugbear.



alwaysblack

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Reply #44 on: September 25, 2013, 05:30:07 PM
You know what this reminded me of? The movie "Next" with Nicolas Cage, where (spoiler) at the end you find out the ENTIRE movie is a vision of one possible future if he goes left or something. Thanks very much, I want my hour and a half back.

Compared with something like Sliding Doors, for example, there are definitely right ways and wrong ways to do this sort of thing.

"If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"


matweller

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Reply #45 on: September 25, 2013, 06:00:07 PM
Yeah, you're right, I must've blotted it out.

In my defence,  the rest of the story harps on about Tony's inevitability despite Scott's superpowers, so it's still muddy.
In your defence, the line was too little too late. Yeah, there was an afterthought that tried to hint at the choice so miserably lacking from the whole narrative up until then, but it was merely tacked in right near the end as if the earlier problems could just be forgotten. As a reader I won't accept that. The author and I have an implied contract whereby he tells me a coherent, consistent story in which he may be economical with the truth, but he will not downright lie to me. Filling in a final twist that relies on the bulk of the story simply being untrue is not good writing, and I would go so far as to argue that the solidity of Tony's future (remember: even to the detail of individual comments) is portrayed so strongly that to claim Scott even had that choice makes the whole narrative a downright lie.

Sorry, personal bugbear.

To be fair, that's a lot of angst directed at the author over an assumption you made in the beginning. Conversely, as soon as there was talk about the beanbags scattering, I assumed there were many possibilities and that choice dictated which one came to fruition. Sure, it was never said that there was an option where Scott turned his head when Tony walked by, therefore Tony never saw him, therefore none of the rest followed; but then, given what we know about Scott's sixth sense, would we assume he would see ghosts of things that couldn't happen because they were killed in their inception? I suppose you could argue that in that case Scott would also see his future selves running around the room doing other things in each of his future-reaching visions, but I can come up with at least two or three highly plausible arguments why he wouldn't.

I'm not saying you're wrong in how you feel based on your initial assumption, just that you need to leave room for the possibility that -- had you made the opposite, just as likely assumption in the beginning -- your feelings could have gone the other way.

Maybe if you had just prepared for listening by viewing into the future and looking at the possibilities... ;)



Amusing, vaguely-related aside...
When I was a kid and assigned a book report on A Catcher in the Rye, I impatiently read the beginning where it's made clear that he's telling his story to a counselor and I interpreted it as just a story he was telling directly to the reader. As a result, it changed my point of view of the whole story and subsequently, my book report. Long story short, I thought I had turned in a carefully considered piece for which the teacher gave me a C -- the lowest grade I had ever had or would have for the next 8 years or so -- and scrawled a note in the top that said, "Did you read the first three pages?"



TheArchivist

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Reply #46 on: September 26, 2013, 09:14:35 AM
To be fair, that's a lot of angst directed at the author over an assumption you made in the beginning.
Well, yes and no. It was rather a rant over an assumption, but not one I "made in the beginning" - it was one that I arrived at while listening to the bulk of the story. So more of a deduction than an assumption.

Conversely, as soon as there was talk about the beanbags scattering, I assumed there were many possibilities and that choice dictated which one came to fruition. Sure, it was never said that there was an option where Scott turned his head when Tony walked by, therefore Tony never saw him, therefore none of the rest followed; but then, given what we know about Scott's sixth sense, would we assume he would see ghosts of things that couldn't happen because they were killed in their inception?
Yes, we would. Because what we know of his sixth sense is precisely that he does see ghosts of things that can only happen if he acts a certain way, which is what your "turning his head" thing is. And so I spent the whole story looking for the reveal of why Tony completely breaks the established rule, and all I got was "oh well, it's kinda because of love, and it's like some sort of fate, and... well ya know?"



You know what this reminded me of? The movie "Next" with Nicolas Cage, where (spoiler) at the end you find out the ENTIRE movie is a vision of one possible future if he goes left or something. Thanks very much, I want my hour and a half back.
Not seen that but it sounds ghastly. It does remind me, though, of an episode of 'Space 1999' (for the perhaps half a dozen people here that have heard of that!) in which some aliens attack Moonbase Alpha, the battle is horribly one-sided, and all the humans die... then it gets revealed that this was all just a warning the aliens implanted in Koenig's mind to persuade him not to act in a certain way.



matweller

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Reply #47 on: September 26, 2013, 01:25:53 PM
Conversely, as soon as there was talk about the beanbags scattering, I assumed there were many possibilities and that choice dictated which one came to fruition. Sure, it was never said that there was an option where Scott turned his head when Tony walked by, therefore Tony never saw him, therefore none of the rest followed; but then, given what we know about Scott's sixth sense, would we assume he would see ghosts of things that couldn't happen because they were killed in their inception?
Yes, we would. Because what we know of his sixth sense is precisely that he does see ghosts of things that can only happen if he acts a certain way, which is what your "turning his head" thing is. And so I spent the whole story looking for the reveal of why Tony completely breaks the established rule, and all I got was "oh well, it's kinda because of love, and it's like some sort of fate, and... well ya know?"
But if he turns his head and looks away, that possible future path ends, there's nothing else to see. And he might not even see that as a possibility of happening if all of his visions come from his point of view. I guess you could say that he should see ghosts of himself moving about the room, but maybe he did and it wasn't mentioned because it wasn't the storyline in which he was interested. Plus, maybe if he doesn't meet Tony, all other possible futures involve Scott leaving school for one reason or another and that's why there are no other visions of himself in that room. And 2/3 the story takes place in another room anyway, so even if ALTScott stayed, he wouldn't be included in that vision.

I'm not trying to change your mind, just saying that I didn't draw the same deduction from the source material. That may be because I'm more lax on my requirement for details than the average EP listener (I realize this, and it's why you won't see me bucking for Nathan's job), but I don't think it's because I mis-heard something that was there, but rather because we filled in the blanks differently.

This one wasn't for you, that's cool. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you will find pure bliss this week. :D



TheArchivist

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Reply #48 on: September 26, 2013, 04:45:13 PM
I'm not trying to change your mind, just saying that I didn't draw the same deduction from the source material. That may be because I'm more lax on my requirement for details than the average EP listener
Fair enough. I'm not trying to change yours, either, just explaining why I felt differently. And as I noted in my first post in this thread, I seem to be the one who's way off average here.



Devoted135

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Reply #49 on: September 30, 2013, 03:03:25 AM
Wow, this story completely sucked me in. Once I fell into the rhythm of third person future tense (there's a new one) I thought that tense was actually really instrumental in creating an entrancing atmosphere. I'm sad that he decides to let his heart be broken in order to gain the other experiences, but I totally get it. Very nicely done. :)