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Author Topic: EP416: On the Big Fisted Circuit  (Read 2125 times)
eytanz
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« on: October 06, 2013, 05:04:01 AM »

EP416: On the Big Fisted Circuit

by Cat Rambo

Read by Shaelyn Grey

--

Jane counted them again to make sure: twelve.

Twelve signatures on the back panel, most jerky with haste, a couple deliberate and firm, one with a little flower above the i, for god’s sake. The pen in her hand ready to add the thirteenth.

How blatant were they going to be?

This was the biggest suit she’d ever crawled into. It meant money: money dripping through the wires around her, money in the gleaming metal struts, money being made by every step it took, money her family needed, every step a week’s rent and food if they were careful with it.

She’d never hit a thirteenth signature before. Most rigs, even the monster ones like this, got destroyed long before a thirteenth fight. It wasn’t just the bad luck, it was dealing with machinery that had been damaged and repaired, damaged and repaired, until you didn’t know what was original body and what was filler.

The sound of the crowd filtered into the suit. Most were screaming, “Coke! Coke! Coke!” as though they meant blood instead, shouts thrumming through the five railroad cars’ worth of metal surrounding her


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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jdarksun
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2013, 10:30:17 AM »

Interesting story, but it felt like the prelude to a bigger piece.  Lots of character motivation and world building, but no conflict resolution.  "Here are some characters; this is what motivates them!  This is the world in which they find themselves.  Corporations are evil!  The system is rigged!  Action is about to happen - the end!"

But my opinion may be colored by hoping for awesome mech action instead of a character study.  I really dig Cat's other stories on the Escape Artist's casts.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2013, 03:20:14 PM »

Yeah, as a character study this was a great piece. But I feel sort of let down by the complete lack of mecha on mecha violence. This could have been an equally good story if the setting were the WWF, kickboxing or even a particularly violent strain of roller derby.
I feel as if the mecha was there not as a plot device but as a gimmick to grab my attention. And I resent that. Because I am capable of enjoying a good character piece by itself regardless of the setting. I came into this story expecting cool mechanized destruction and didn't get that at all.
So, good story idea, bad execution.
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quasidoza
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2013, 01:30:46 PM »

From the first few descriptive sentences and podcast length, I didn't think there would be robo blood - not sure it's the stories fault we thought it was going to more action - which I'd have loved.

Thought the ending was unusually closed, often it's left with a maybe they will fight and win but nope, she was screwed and to high to care.

Yes it didn't have to be a SciFi theme but glad it was else would have missed it.
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adrianh
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« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2013, 05:47:06 AM »

I seem to be alone in not missing the mecha-on-mecha action ;-)

The protagonist knows she's doomed before she gets into the suit. She does it anyway because, for her, the sacrifice is worth it. For me that's the centre of the story. Adding on the fight would take away from that for me.
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Sleeperservice
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« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2013, 06:55:53 AM »

Long time listener, first time caller.
Terrible story. Did not enjoy.
Nothings happening... nothings happening.. boring chat... nothings happening...
the end.

Glad it was over.

Terrible waste of an interesting topic.

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Gamercow
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« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2013, 08:52:29 AM »

I think I'm just going to ignore Cat Rambo stories from now on.  I just don't like them.  Maybe my past experiences are hampering my enjoyment of subsequent stories, but Cat just does not seem to be my thing.  That said, maybe I won't skip her stories.  After all, I really dislike "Spar", "Ponies", and "Mantis Wives" from Kij Johnson, but I really liked "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss". 

Anyway, back to this story.  I disliked it because there was no story arc, very little tension, very little depth to the characters, and I just wasn't given any reason to give a damn.  The same theme was repeated over and over, permutations on the themes of poverty, superstition, and corporate greed. This could have been a flash story and had the same if not more impact on me.
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Windup
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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2013, 08:43:27 PM »

I'm not a particular fan of the whole "giant robot" sub-genre -- it just never made sense to me.  So I was not at all disappointed by the lack of mecha on mecha violence.

I am an absolute sucker for stories of sacrifice, especially when it takes the gritty form of getting up every day and doing what needs to be done, regardless of how you feel about it. Accepting a situation where you know you're getting screwed over -- because a lousy deal is the best deal you can get right now -- has quite a bit of resonance for me, too. 

All of which is a way of saying that for me, this story worked.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2013, 10:00:59 PM by Windup » Logged

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Mad Moe
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« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2013, 09:56:00 PM »

Is it me or has the audio quality of many podcast fallen off?  I cannot hear this well in car or PC speakers. 
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2013, 01:00:51 AM »

Is it me or has the audio quality of many podcast fallen off?  I cannot hear this well in car or PC speakers. 
I don't think it's you. In this particular case the narrator had a few fumbled words, but I was able to hear more or less clearly on my standard equipment. However, I did have problems listening to a few recent stories...
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eytanz
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« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2013, 03:07:33 AM »

Quick moderator note: I'd like to remind our newer members that while criticism is welcome, on both story and production, we do ask that members follow the one rule and think of how they frame their criticism.
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timprov
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« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2013, 08:08:01 AM »

I'm torn.  On the one hand I wished there were some sort of action, on the other I didn't mind the character study or the introspectiveness.  I do think this is one of those stories where the Sci-Fi element could be removed and replaced with someones else (Boxing match, wrestling match, chess game, whatever) and it would still be pretty much the same story.  That's disappointing but not surprising, I'm finding that a lot of stories I've read or heard could remove the Sci-Fi element and replace it with something conventional and not much would change. 
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matweller
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« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2013, 08:26:08 AM »

...I'm finding that a lot of stories I've read or heard could remove the Sci-Fi element and replace it with something conventional and not much would change. 
You mean like Star Trek, Star Wars & BSG? In my experience, all of the best stories are drama driven. Conversely, a bad story is bad no matter where it's set. I think the funny thing about the disconnect we're having with this story is that we all love Mechs, so we want to hear more about mechs, so we want to be more disappointed that there isn't more about mechs, but we got a solid story in the balance and we're not sure how to process that.

That's an interesting thing for writers to keep in mind: beware your setting in so far that the audience's expectations for what happens in that setting may distract them from your brilliant story. It also makes me wonder, what if the plot behind the Transformer movies wasn't garbage? What if it was somehow something so brilliant that it eclipsed Braveheart or even Julius Ceasar. Would the people that complained about plot weakness actually like the movies less in that case because the story was too good for the fighting robots that we all came to see? Is that actually an argument in favor of boilerplate plots in action movies?
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timprov
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« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2013, 08:50:52 AM »

Quote
You mean like Star Trek, Star Wars & BSG?

I was thinking more along the lines of books like Red Mars, where if you remove the Science Fiction element you'd have a totally different story or no story at all.  In this particular story if you remove the Mechs and replace them with something else, Race cars say, the story itself would still be the same with very little change.

Star Wars, Star Trek, BSG, removing the Science Fiction elements from those stories would also be easy (Star Wars is basically a coming of age wizards tale, Star Trek could be about a boat on an ocean, BSG could be about a group of people looking for a homeland. . .wait, that one's been done before.)
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flintknapper
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« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2013, 09:50:31 AM »

I seem to be alone in not missing the mecha-on-mecha action ;-)

The protagonist knows she's doomed before she gets into the suit. She does it anyway because, for her, the sacrifice is worth it. For me that's the centre of the story. Adding on the fight would take away from that for me.

I am with Adrian H on this one. The story is not about mechs battling. It is about a woman riding out to meet her fate. It is a deeply sorrow-filled story that takes place in a world where mechs battle for the crowd, but it isn't about mechs. I think some of the negative comments come in because they were expecting something else.

The story is a character piece. I love Cat Rambo's writing and I think she hit the nail on the head with this one. Also the reader's voice was reflexive and mournful which fit the character. I loved it and I felt like the story held up as a stand alone piece.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2013, 09:58:10 AM »

At the risk of widening the tangent and getting scolded by eytanz...

It also makes me wonder, what if the plot behind the Transformer movies wasn't garbage? What if it was somehow something so brilliant that it eclipsed Braveheart or even Julius Ceasar. Would the people that complained about plot weakness actually like the movies less in that case because the story was too good for the fighting robots that we all came to see? Is that actually an argument in favor of boilerplate plots in action movies?

The plot behind the Transformers movies was not garbage, it was rather elegant: Transformers are toys. Toys are for kids. Kids watch kiddy TV. But you are limited by the amount of commercials you can put in kiddy TV. So we make a cartoon series whose entire purpose is to promote the toys. Kids watch the show, want the toys, beg their parents, Hasbro makes money.
Fast forward 25 years. (Or hop in the DeLorean).
The kids who bought the toys are now adults (not grownups, there's a difference). They loved the toys and the show. They want to continue that love for their own kids, and also because they never grew up. So they make a movie, to sell more toys. Hasbro is OK with this.
Everything else is just bells and whistles.

As for that heinous comment about Star Wars being a standard wizard's coming of age story...
I sincerely hope you mean the prequel movies, which we don't talk about.
Because if you mean the original movies... I may have to take drastic measures. (which include ranting, links and the occasional animated gif).
For now, read this[url].
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timprov
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« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2013, 10:17:26 AM »

Quote
As for that heinous comment about Star Wars being a standard wizard's coming of age story...
I sincerely hope you mean the prequel movies, which we don't talk about.
Because if you mean the original movies... I may have to take drastic measures. (which include ranting, links and the occasional animated gif).
For now, read this[url].

Well, I don't want to incur anyone's wrath, but I do mean the OT.  At it's core Star Wars is a fantasy story with Space Ships replacing dragons and Jedi/Sith replacing Wizards and demons.  That doesn't mean it's not great, I'm as big a Star Wars fan as they come and I didn't even notice the parallels until much, much later in life, but I believe that removing the Sci-Fi elements of Star Wars would make it a fantasy story about wizards (with pirates and princess of course.) 
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Gamercow
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« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2013, 10:32:43 AM »

It's been a while, so I'm going to trot out my old chestnut in response to the "Is this story sci-fi"/"The sci-fi could be removed from this story to little effect"  comments that have been increasing in number again lately. (This is not to anyone in particular, just seeing a trend)

What does it matter?

I understand the human reaction when they perceive something isn't what it says on the tin. In the case of fiction stories, especially short-ish stories such as these, the labels imposed upon them are of little importance compared to the content therein.  So someone got fantasy in your sci-fi, or horror, or romance, or there aren't enough meaty chunks of science.  Try to focus on other reasons you might have liked or disliked the story.  You'll probably get more out of it. 
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2013, 12:16:03 PM »

It's been a while, so I'm going to trot out my old chestnut in response to the "Is this story sci-fi"/"The sci-fi could be removed from this story to little effect"  comments that have been increasing in number again lately. (This is not to anyone in particular, just seeing a trend)

What does it matter?

Amen Brother Cow. 

I can't wrap my head around some of the complaints.  We got a story about a mecha-warrior going willingly to her death so that her family may survive. 

What more do you want?  A cookie?!?
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timprov
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« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2013, 03:22:57 PM »

Quote
What more do you want?  A cookie?!?

If this story had cookies they'd talk about eating the cookies, then you'd have to imagine them eating them after the story was done.

Maybe it doesn't matter to most, but to me it does.  I didn't like it any less, I liked it well enough and wouldn't be surprised if it was listed as one of the years best.  It just seems to be a trend in Science Fiction where the Science Fiction is just an element to make it a Science Fiction story when, in fact, it could be any kind of story and still be the same.  I know, I'm in the minority about it, but I really want some high minded Science Fiction stories that blow my mind with crazy ideas about the future.  That's what attracted me to Science Fiction and what kept me interested 35 years later.

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