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Author Topic: EP413: Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers  (Read 16686 times)

Myrealana

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Reply #25 on: October 01, 2013, 05:55:32 PM
Awesome. Simply awesome.

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TheArchivist

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Reply #26 on: October 02, 2013, 04:37:43 PM
Ah! Hurrah! A story where I can actually say

  I really enjoyed this. Well characterised, fun, nice twist at the end. And the logic of the slightly crazy situation all hung together properly throughout.

Actually, I've been thinking a bit more. What I really like about the twist is that it's kind of a double bluff. At the start of the story, with the title and the opening description of Harry's as just a quirky not-so-fast-food place, the expectation is that something scary/weird/fascinating/delightful happens and the narrator moves to another town/city/fast food outlet. Only a reasonable way in do you begin to think he's off to another reality, so when he finally decides to explore this world it's actually not a twist at all, because you're back where you thought you'd started. Rather than the author saying "ha! had you fooled there! Haha!" it's more like "See, should have stuck with simple and familiar". Which is lovely because it's exactly the lesson that the character actually does manage to learn just in time. And that pleases me enormously.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2013, 05:43:29 PM by TheArchivist »



zombie_telepath

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Reply #27 on: October 03, 2013, 12:06:05 PM
Created an account to say I really liked this story. The idea of dimensional travel is infinitely appealing.

Speaking of infinity, though, I do wonder if the setting of a Hamburger place as an inter-world nexus doesn't normalize some relationships that other-dimensional denizens might find unsettling. I realize that the choice of the "ordinary" and famliar location of a rural diner is probably meant to contrast with the fantastic/sci-fi premise, but still, the ease with which a supposedly diverse society of dimensional travelers intercts with our idea of a familiar establishment seems odd. For example, as a vegetarian I find it disturbing that, hailing from infinite worlds, not one of the guests would be disturbed at the prospect of killing a living animal, grinding up its flesh, frying it in oil, and eating it with corn syrup and food coloring. Or, along similar lines, all of the travelers seem familiar with and approving of the idea of employment, unequal ownership, monetary currency, and so on. Watt-Evans does a great job evoking a variety of vivid and intriguing home-worlds for the diners, but some things seem to deeply embedded in what we think of as normal to be able to imagine any kind of universe without them.

Fictionally, it probably wouldn't have worked to bring in these considerations, but philosophically, I find them worth thinking about. Maybe, as another commenter suggested, similar universes tend to glom together, so a shared world-view, even for humanoids from such different worlds, shouldn't be surprising.



evrgrn_monster

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Reply #28 on: October 04, 2013, 01:50:55 AM
This was adorable. I was really charmed by this story. The descriptions of the masses of trans-dimensional travelers and the truly hopeful ending here were exactly what I needed today. The thing that got to me here was that the entire story had me filled with wonder at this fictional world and its possibilities, then flipped that wonder over to our mundane, little real world. I know that was the entire point of the story, but I am still tickled that it actually left me feeling that way, not just the character. A lot of stories attempt to do that, but this is one of the few where it actually worked out that way.

It did leave me in the mood for a super greasy hamburger. Thanks, EscapePod, ruining my diet.


Mouseneb

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Reply #29 on: October 04, 2013, 05:43:46 AM
Loved it.

I also, have left the All-Night Hamburgers and this left me grinning as I wandered. And it's ok, to never go home again, because you bring it with you, and discover it waiting for you, and you've changed and it has and there's no way to get there, anyway, because it doesn't exist. Onward!

Every day is an adventure.


matweller

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Reply #30 on: October 04, 2013, 05:58:04 AM
Loved it.

I also, have left the All-Night Hamburgers and this left me grinning as I wandered. And it's ok, to never go home again, because you bring it with you, and discover it waiting for you, and you've changed and it has and there's no way to get there, anyway, because it doesn't exist. Onward!
As someone who has moved around a lot in life, that's the best thing about this. It's like a sic-fi exaggeration of a basic truth of life in general. All locations are fluid in time and each is different revisited later. Dimensional travel or not, you never really go back to any place you've left.



Scatcatpdx

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Reply #31 on: October 05, 2013, 02:53:57 AM
Let me guess: Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers served ......... sliders.

Over all  I like the story even tough I was a little cold about he ending. The grass is not always greener on the other side trope.  
 
« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 04:53:48 AM by Scatcatpdx »



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #32 on: October 05, 2013, 05:33:32 PM
Let me guess: Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers served ......... sliders.

Hah! I got it! And I loved that show! Until it got weird...

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Gamercow

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Reply #33 on: October 09, 2013, 03:23:47 PM
Tip:  Listen to the VERY end.  Past the DaiKaiju outro bumper.

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


matweller

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Reply #34 on: October 09, 2013, 06:21:32 PM
Tip:  Listen to the VERY end.  Past the DaiKaiju outro bumper.
I couldn't let Norm's mention of Baltimore go unanswered. Too bad it's in such a bad year for our boys.



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #35 on: October 10, 2013, 01:20:34 PM
Tip:  Listen to the VERY end.  Past the DaiKaiju outro bumper.
I couldn't let Norm's mention of Baltimore go unanswered. Too bad it's in such a bad year for our boys.

In my headcanon everybody who has a podcast uses it to send secrete messages to other podcasters. Nothing important, just regular smalltalk and friendly teasing. Thank you for confirming this.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2013, 01:38:46 PM by Max e^{i pi} »

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SonofSpermcube

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Reply #36 on: October 26, 2013, 04:19:50 AM
Anyone else think this story could be in the same universe as "The 76 Goldwater Dime?"



Unblinking

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Reply #37 on: October 29, 2013, 01:55:59 PM
Overall my reaction was summed up by a comment that is worded perhaps more harshly than I would've worded it myself, but which is still in my ballpark:

I liked listening to it and was fairly well entertaind, however, I felt a bit short-changed in the end: the story did build up, and there were all those weird customers of the diner, but in the end, they were not weird at all, and nothing exceptional happened, and it felt all a bit like Hitchikers Guide, without the genius in it...


It did feel like it was going for a very mixed-alien with all kinds of weird possibilities of interaction like Douglas Adams would've written but it didn't give me that sense of wonder, didn't make me laugh, didn't make me think about the real world in any new way by giving me a skewed alien perspective. 

I was quite disappointed he didn't try traveling worlds.  You can never come home anyway, why not travel to a place where no one you grew up with could even imagine?  I mean, I get that he can travel this world and then go to others if he feels like it, but I felt like he had the choice of a path between infinite improbable and varied adventures, and world travel in our world and he chose the latter.  Okay, fine, our world has some neat stuff in it too, but the ending seemed to be framed as if it were the beginning of an adventure yet he takes the less adventurous option.



LaShawn

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Reply #38 on: November 21, 2013, 05:42:18 PM
I was quite disappointed he didn't try traveling worlds.  You can never come home anyway, why not travel to a place where no one you grew up with could even imagine?  I mean, I get that he can travel this world and then go to others if he feels like it, but I felt like he had the choice of a path between infinite improbable and varied adventures, and world travel in our world and he chose the latter.  Okay, fine, our world has some neat stuff in it too, but the ending seemed to be framed as if it were the beginning of an adventure yet he takes the less adventurous option.

Oh, I don't know about that.

This story struck me every which side because just last night, my hubby and I were talking about what we were going to do for our 15th anniversary. Being money conscious, I was looking at Groupon deals and seeing all these hotel deals to places I've never been before, to states and countries I've never been. I could see myself on a beach in Jamaica, walking down a riverfront in Texas...

But then this deal popped up for an overnight stay at Wisconsin Dells at a waterpark, which is only an hour away, and I was like "Ooooo!!!" Because even though I've been living here in Wisconsin for five years, and lived in Chicago before that, I've never, ever been to Wisconsin Dells before. Plus, we have friends who had just moved up to that area and we miss them. This is coming from someone who has lots of friends who go travelling and they tell me all the places they've been and I get so envious. But I also feel there's so much here in this state I want to see. I love driving the backroads and visiting the little towns and going to the parks. I'm exploring what I call 'home' and loving every bit of it.

Coming back to the story, I don't see the main character missing out. Now he's more aware of alternate worlds, he's probably more sensitive to travelers and places that cater to such things and will gravitate towards such places as he travels. And there's always the knowledge that he has the option to travel through worlds anytime. Kind of like me still keeping an eye on those Groupon deals. I know that there might come a day when I might snap and go off for a weekend trip. And that's good too.

Finally, MADISON WISCONSIN REPRESENT! Jonathon Hawkins, I need to meet you!

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justgilmore

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Reply #39 on: January 08, 2014, 12:01:29 AM
This is the story that finally compelled after years of lurking to comment on thread. I am a few months behind but this story outraged me. First I was so happy about West Virginia being a setting for science fiction story but when it turned out that only nearly all universes Sutton West Virginia is in the middle of nowhere.

I love this state, and hate the reality that kids need to move to Pittsburgh for them to have a life and career. So frustrating!

I imagine many parallel universes where the Kingdom of Appalachia rules the world. Some universes where the kingdom enslaves the waterlogged ruins of the East Coast, others with stem punk trains and other fantasy universes where "clean coal" actually exists.



SonofSpermcube

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Reply #40 on: January 08, 2014, 04:31:42 PM
This is the story that finally compelled after years of lurking to comment on thread. I am a few months behind but this story outraged me. First I was so happy about West Virginia being a setting for science fiction story but when it turned out that only nearly all universes Sutton West Virginia is in the middle of nowhere.

I love this state, and hate the reality that kids need to move to Pittsburgh for them to have a life and career. So frustrating!

The first time I drove through West Virginia, I was stunned by the scenery.  Like had to stop the car on top of a hill and just look at it.  For comparison:  I am from Alaska. 



matweller

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Reply #41 on: January 08, 2014, 05:14:54 PM
I'll never leave the Appalachians. I've never seen anything in my travels or on TV that makes me think any other part of the world has more to offer for me.



SonofSpermcube

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Reply #42 on: January 09, 2014, 04:48:19 AM
When I was in West Virginia, I stopped in a diner, and I had a hamburger. 

Also you guys have, or had, a kick-ass public radio announcer.  I'm sure you know the one I mean.  That guy is even more awesome than Wichita Rutherford.



Unblinking

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Reply #43 on: January 09, 2014, 03:37:49 PM
I imagine many parallel universes where the Kingdom of Appalachia rules the world. Some universes where the kingdom enslaves the waterlogged ruins of the East Coast, others with stem punk trains and other fantasy universes where "clean coal" actually exists.

I agree that there are other parallel universes where the Kingdom of Appalachia rules the world.  But, in my mind at least, the between-world travel heavily biases towards similarity and those worlds are dissimilar enough to be much more difficult to travel to from here, or to travel from to here.



CryptoMe

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Reply #44 on: January 15, 2014, 04:36:15 AM
Like most people, I enjoyed this story.

Personally, I liked the ending, mostly because I assumed Benares was in another dimension - don't ask me why, I just did. So to me, the guy traveled around his own dimension, and then decided to try the other ones after all. And I thought that was neat, the best of both worlds.

You know, I am just going to go a head and keep assuming that's what he did. It makes me happier. So there ;)



hardware

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Reply #45 on: March 10, 2014, 07:05:13 PM
So, this was one of those middle-of-the-road stories, sympathetic, competent and a little bit safe. I won't remember it for long, but had a nice enough time listening to it. 



MichaelFoster

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Reply #46 on: March 21, 2014, 07:12:49 PM
I registered just so that I could comment on this story.

This is one of the best short stories I have ever read/heard. Both aspiring and accomplished fiction writers should study this piece.

The writing is simple and vivid; from the very beginning the author gives us a very clear, coherent, easy-to-visualize description of this world. This is a problem with a number of submissions to EscapePod; no matter how imaginative or foreign your world is, you should be able to describe it well enough that your audience can quickly immerse themselves in its landscape. Few writers do this well; this story did it effortlessly.

The premise itself is simple and elegant. I am not a fan of the parallel universe motif, and I think the concept is silly (I like Occam's razor), but it is used here to express the human theme of curiosity and discovery in a way that should appeal to just about anyone.

The character development is realistic and relatable. As a bildungsroman, the story expresses young men's desire to explore elegantly and sensitively. Likewise, it expresses the melancholy and complexities of travel and leaving home from the narrator's and the traveler's perspectives with great clarity and accuracy.

Finally, the twist at the end is brilliant, and it leaves us wondering why the narrator finally decided to travel to a parallel world, and it encourages us to ask ourselves if we would travel to foreign places if it meant we could never come home again--and what compels people do to so or not do so. In other words, it forces us to empathize with travelers and non-travelers alike.

It's a beautiful story and a towering accomplishment. I've become a paid subscriber. Thanks.



Unblinking

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Reply #47 on: March 25, 2014, 03:46:43 PM
I registered just so that I could comment on this story.


Welcome! I hope you stick around!  I love discussing stories with people here, and the more the merrier!