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Author Topic: EP101: The 43 Antarean Dynasties  (Read 26009 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: April 13, 2007, 04:07:40 AM »

EP101: The 43 Antarean Dynasties

1998 Hugo Winner!

By Mike Resnick.
Read by  Steven Burley and Gregg Taylor (of Decoder Ring Theatre).
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 1997.

A man, a woman, and a child emerge from the Temple of the Honored Sun. The woman holds a camera to her eye, capturing the same image from a dozen unimaginative angles. The child, his lip sparsely covered with hair that is supposed to imply maturity, never sees beyond the game he is playing on his pocket computer. The man looks around to make sure no one is watching him, grinds out a smokeless cigar beneath his heel, and then increases his pace until he joins them.

They approach me, and I will myself to become one with my surroundings, to insinuate myself into the marble walls and stone walkways before they can speak to me.

I am invisible. You cannot see me. You will pass me by.

“Hey, fella — we’re looking for a guide,” says the man. “You interested?”


Rated PG. Contains mild documentary references to violence and sexual acts. It’s also not very upbeat.

Referenced Sites:
Joe Murphy Tribute Podcast
Joe Murphy Memorial Fund
Beatnik Turtle


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!


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Simon Painter
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2007, 05:04:39 AM »

I rate this one as just OK.  There's lots of detail, and it's all very nice, and for an info-dump it's very well presented.  Unfortunately, though, nothing really happens anywhere in the story.

The characters are clearly drawn, but with no real depth.  The American tourists are stupid, ignorant and dismissive of other cultures, everything that Stereotypical American tourists are usually portrayed as being.  To be fair, I've encountered people like this while abroad in Germany, but even so, I would think there's still more to them than this one style of behavior.

The major problem is, as I've said, that nothing really happens.  We're presented with a problem (an ancient civilisation has fallen to becoming a tourist attraction) but nothing is resolved, the status quo is exactly the same at the end of the story as the beginning, and there's no character development, none of the characters are any different after the story ends.

This feels something like the first chapter of a potentially interesting novel, setting the scene and the main character, but nothing more than that.

I may well be mistaken, but it gives me the impression that this story comes from the Author's view of himself as being worldly and well-travelled, as represented by the narrator; which is in contrast to his fellows, as represented by the tourists.  This is all fine as an underlying theme, but doesn't make a good story unless we have a plot.

The other major problem I had with it was that the SF element wasn't essential to the story, by changing just a few words the alien city could have been Cairo, Delhi or any number of other Third World cities.

On a side note, it's interesting to see that this was a Hugo winner, it bears some resemblance to Tk'tk'tk, which was presented on Escape Pod some time ago (Except that one had a plot  Tongue).  I wonder if they have a thing for Travelogues? 

I don't want to give out the impression that I hated this, though.  It was OK, but just that.  It's fun enough, but I doubt I'll give it much thought again now I've finished it.

Simon Painter
Shropshire, UK
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VBurn
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2007, 08:51:52 AM »

Well said, Simon.
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Josh
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2007, 11:05:54 AM »

I agree with Simon, it was, I found, a little boring. I fell asleep after awhile. To be fair though, it was about 12:00 AM...and I was in bed...and I did have my eyes closed.
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lowky
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from http://lovecraftismissing.com/?page_id=3142


« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2007, 02:32:40 PM »

again I agree with Simon.  I did find it somewhat hard to follow at times, as it seemed as if there were almost two storylines going on.  1 with the tourists, and another like a guide giving a tour in the future, where the Antarean Dynasties had been reestablished.  The second being given in a slightly different voice, using some sort of vocal effect from the sound of it.  An okay story, but not among my favorites.
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Holden
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2007, 02:43:58 PM »

It may have been missing action, it had plenty of conflict. I could feel the guide's hidden resentment of the tourists, his disgust in himself for whoring his own beliefs by lying in the hope of more coins, and his anger at the quiet subjugation of his people.
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lowky
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from http://lovecraftismissing.com/?page_id=3142


« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2007, 03:05:31 PM »

it had plenty of conflict, I think Simon's point was there was no conflict resolution.
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Jim
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2007, 03:15:50 PM »

I liked the story for the internal conflict of the narrator.

If there were a few jokes or more sarcasm it would sound a bit like a Douglas Adams work.
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Josh
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2007, 04:31:53 PM »

I liked the story for the internal conflict of the narrator.

If there were a few jokes or more sarcasm it would sound a bit like a Douglas Adams work.

Absolutely!
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Simon Painter
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2007, 05:17:57 PM »

Quote
If there were a few jokes or more sarcasm it would sound a bit like a Douglas Adams work.

Ew, Douglas Adams and Sarcasm aren't really a mix I'd like to see.

Quote
it had plenty of conflict, I think Simon's point was there was no conflict resolution.

Yes, that's it, my problem was that a situation is set up, but nothing is resolved. Normally a story should have three parts: a beginning, and end and a middle which moves one to the other; in this story we only had a beginning, nothing moved and nothing was ended.

Simon Painter
Shropshire, UK
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Jim
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WWW
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2007, 07:09:24 PM »

Ew, Douglas Adams and Sarcasm aren't really a mix I'd like to see.

Are you mad?

Oh, yes, I see you are.
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Simon Painter
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2007, 07:33:46 PM »

not really, Douglas Adams' style of humour wasn't sarcastic.  I might describe it as Glib, Sardonic or just Witty, but not Sarcastic.

I'm probably not explaining myself very well, does any of this make sense?  It's so late it's become early over here, and I need to get to bed :-p

Simon Painter
Shropshire, UK
« Last Edit: April 13, 2007, 07:39:26 PM by madSimonJ » Logged

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clichekiller
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2007, 09:48:55 PM »

not really, Douglas Adams' style of humour wasn't sarcastic.  I might describe it as Glib, Sardonic or just Witty, but not Sarcastic.
I think you nailed it!  His works were...they were just art, every word where it needed to be to deliver maximum impact. 

As for this work, I liked it.  It highlights a problem I noticed myself while honeymooning in St. Lucia.  We drove through such utter poverty to the resort that it was unsettling; the utter dichotomy between the opulence of the Sandals.  At the end, against resort rules, I tipped our concierge $200.00, what I later learned was equivalent to four months salary for him.

The work was full of a lot of conflict but I think it ended perfectly; not with some schmaltzy feel good ending but with the way it occurs in real life.  Obnoxious and rude or friendly and generous at the end of the day the tourists go home and it is the natives who remain behind.  So in that way I found it compelling. 

All in all I liked it.  By far not my most favorite work, but definitely enjoyable. 

- clichekiller
 
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Josh
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2007, 10:58:34 PM »

not really, Douglas Adams' style of humour wasn't sarcastic.  I might describe it as Glib, Sardonic or just Witty, but not Sarcastic.

I'm probably not explaining myself very well, does any of this make sense?  It's so late it's become early over here, and I need to get to bed :-p

Simon Painter
Shropshire, UK

I see what you mean, but I think that, while maybe not his writing as a whole, some of Douglas Adams' characters are very sarcastic. For example, the first to come to mind, Marvin from the Hitchhiker's Guide, now there is a character that Adams let his satirical and sarcastic humor flow out of.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2007, 11:30:13 PM by Josh » Logged
bryanw
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Still in awe by the night sky.


« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2007, 01:04:25 AM »

When it comes to the story content I largely agree with Simon and the rest of you.  It felt like the first chapter of a novel (especially with the small digression about the possible messiah-child), and I must admit I'm a little intrigued to see where this story would go if given more time. And, as usual for a Mike Resnick story, I felt like I needed a hug after it was over.

However, what stood out to me in this story was the superb presentation!  Each character had a unique and logical voice, and the history narrator (not the guide, but whoever was retelling the history of the dynasties) sounded at once both proud and nostalgic-- exactly as would fit the story universe.  Very well done!
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Simon Painter
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« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2007, 03:32:53 AM »

As for this work, I liked it.  It highlights a problem I noticed myself while honeymooning in St. Lucia.  We drove through such utter poverty to the resort that it was unsettling; the utter dichotomy between the opulence of the Sandals.  At the end, against resort rules, I tipped our concierge $200.00, what I later learned was equivalent to four months salary for him.

Oh man, I'd heard there were places like that, of course, but I've never been to one.  That was geuinly hoopy of you  Smiley  You seem to be a frood that really knows where his towl is. (sorry, I'm still in Douglas Adams mode, but that was genuinly great of you)

You have a point at this, I don't have much experience of travelling abroad, I've only visited Germany and Austria, countries on a similar economic level with the UK, so I've never seen anything like this.  I'd like to say that tourists behaving like this is some sort've US thing, but I'm willing to bet that UK tourists are just as bad in their own way

Now you've said this, I'll allow the story an extra star out of 5 in my rating of it :-)

Quote from: Josh
I see what you mean, but I think that, while maybe not his writing as a whole, some of Douglas Adams' characters are very sarcastic. For example, the first to come to mind, Marvin from the Hitchhiker's Guide, now there is a character that Adams let his satirical and sarcastic humor flow out of.

Again, I don't really agree, but I can see myself causing an argument here, and of all the things we could argue about the precise way in which Douglas Adams is cool shouldn't be one of them  Wink  I may start another thread about this some day.

I'm off for a round of Pan-Galactic Gargle-Blasters, and anyone that wants to join me is welcome  Tongue

Simon Painter
Shropshire, UK

« Last Edit: April 14, 2007, 04:11:25 PM by madSimonJ » Logged

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Josh
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« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2007, 09:26:08 AM »


Again, I don't really agree, but I can see myself causing an argument here, and of all the things we could argue about the precise way in which Douglas Adams is cool shouldn't be one of them  Wink  I may start another thread about this some day.


Very true, the definition of his humor aside, Douglas Adams is pretty darn awesome!
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Zathras
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« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2007, 10:55:33 AM »



As for this work, I liked it.  It highlights a problem I noticed myself while honeymooning in St. Lucia.  We drove through such utter poverty to the resort that it was unsettling; the utter dichotomy between the opulence of the Sandals.  At the end, against resort rules, I tipped our concierge $200.00, what I later learned was equivalent to four months salary for him.

 



I agree with you.  Very well said.  The story reminded me of my trips to Mexico, especially away from the tourist havens.  The only thing missing was some ignoramus getting upset with a native because they don't understand English.  I tend to enjoy the Resnik stories and this was no exception.

Zathras
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600south
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« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2007, 04:38:35 PM »

I think i've seen those scenes acted out in real life in various parts of the world. And even though i found the characters a little cookie-cutter in this one, and there wasn't much action, i did enjoy the writer's imaginative descriptions of the ancient Antareans and i'd like to hear more stories set in this world. It was pretty rich material and my favorite part of the story.

Must say, though, people who wallow in the past glories of their 'race', without doing much to advance their existence in the present, kind of irritate me too. A small part of me felt some satisfaction when the dumb tourist started giving the pompous guide a little pushback towards the end.
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slic
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Stephen Lumini


« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2007, 10:02:47 PM »

madSimonJ pretty much read my mind on this - but he was much more forgiving than me.  I can only imagine that this story won a Hugo out of guilt.

I found the idea and characters to be cliche, the sci-fi element unnecessary to the plot, the story too long, and in one part, a ludicrous event threw me right out of the story (when one Earth ship drops one bomb and annihilates 300,000 Antareans - seriously, they never invented bombs?  They are contacted by an alien spacefaring race and never thought that the aliens might have advanced technology?  I get that this is some kind of analogy to how the English took out the Zulu or any other race with massively advanced tech took out another, but it just seemed dopey, and besides, why mass all your troops in one spot when the attacker could land anywhere?).

The production was excellent - the reading, voices and effects were great!  I will be checking out the Decoder Ring Theatre!!  And I never realized until this podcast that we Canadians really do have an accent Wink
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