Author Topic: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer  (Read 12488 times)

eytanz

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EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« on: July 07, 2014, 03:49:21 AM »
EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer

By Clifford Simak

Read by Norm Sherman

This story won the 1980 Nebula Award for Best Short Story and the 1981 Hugo Award for Best Short Story.
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Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: July 07, 2014, 08:36:05 AM by eytanz »

Darwinist

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2014, 08:10:25 AM »
Man, that was great! Thanks! Simak is one of my all time favorites.   I loved the comparison to Norman Rockwell in the intro. 

BTW - the music was so loud over the outro and listener feedback that I couldn't make out what was being said. 
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.    -  Carl Sagan

TiDinzeo

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2014, 12:55:53 PM »
I'd never even heard of Clifford Simak before listening to this, but I'm going to have to look for some of his work now so that I can read more.

I too had the same problem with the outro and listener feedback that Darwinist had.  In fact that's what has lead me to finally sign up to the forums, something I've been meaning to do for quite some time.

matweller

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2014, 12:57:26 PM »
Thanks for the heads-up. I'll see what I can do with the file.

HeartSailor

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2014, 07:36:44 PM »
I love Clifford D. Simak.  Simak's "City" was one of my first SF reads ever, and has remained a thought provoking book for me through the years.

Simak used the machina of an Observer in both "City" and in "The Grotto of the Dancing Deer."  In the former it is the Jenkins character; in this story, it is Luis.  Similarly, in both tales, there is no real redemption for the Observer; we get the sense that Luis is not only lonely, but saddened by his fate to watch mankind.  Why?  

Preservation is the stated reason for Luis' self-imposed non-participatory, observational relationship with the world around him.  Yet one must wonder if this uninvolved life is really living.  A very deep rooted part of the human psyche which is necessary for existence is sense of being worthwhile, or worthy.  A sense of self-worth.  Without some acknowledgement of each others' contributions, our human sense of self-worth suffers.  This seems to be why Luis must, from time to time, try to reach out to someone who might recognize who he is and what he does.  

And this point, for me, is the rub.  What does he do?  Simply survive?  I'm not sure that would be enough to satisfy a sense of self looking for worth in the world.  Is he a repository of history?  Hmmm...not very good at either recording it or sharing it.  As evening falls on the human race, Luis will still be there.  How will he look back and assess his contribution?  He would indeed be the loneliest man.

And that's where this falls down for me.  I can't imagine anyone who, for over 20,000 years, would be content to just sit on the sidelines and watch.  The very act of conscious non-participation in the human race defines Luis, in my mind, as nonhuman.   That's the only way I can see this.  His loneliness is then also a longing for something that he can never have - the desire and the ability to be fully human.  

Interestingly, this is a similar characteristic of the Jenkins character in Simak's "City."  Jenkins is a sentient robot who struggles with the humanity issue.  He also gets to watch as the human race grows, changes, and evolves out of itself.  Jenkins is always alone, however, and while we may not know what he desires, we recognize that his separateness above all defines him as nonhuman.  

In a similar fashion Luis is just as separate.  The unanswered question is...why?

I also missed the outro- the above ramblings may have been covered already.  Apologies to the editors.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2014, 07:41:00 PM by HeartSailor »
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Warren

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2014, 09:02:08 PM »
A good story. Luis's special, enduring connection to the site was predictable long before Boyd entered the shaft, given the genre, but I suspect this is either because the author was satisfied to make it so or because the story has frequently been imitated over the last thirty years.

I share HeartSailor's skepticism about Luis's spending 20,000 years just watching the world pass him by. Wouldn't he at least move on to a more developed pursuit of his enjoyment of music? 20,000 years (and a lot of fancy instrument-makers) later, and his flute hasn't changed. Sure, this is narratively important - but he could be shown playing the flute on the hilltop to give Boyd the clue, and playing a mean fiddle back in camp or some such.

One small, amusingly jarring note for me was in the middle though, when Boyd flies back to DC to visit John Roberts. What is the right thing to do in cases like this? When the story was written, "John Roberts of Washington DC" was a carefully, neutrally bland anglo-saxon name, suitable for a rather undefined well-connected guy in the seat of American power; now, "John Roberts of Washington DC" has a rather more specific meaning. Should you replace the name when re-issuing or recording the story?

(also, what others noted about the mixing in the outro and feedback sections)

Father Beast

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2014, 06:15:14 AM »
I experienced some claustrophobia in the scene where he reached the end of the tunnel, turns over to see the way up, and then sits up in the elbow of the turn. That's just a personal freak out moment for me.

The story was just a lot of fun, and kept me hooked. Immortals are always interesting to imagine how they get along.

Too bad I couldn't hear the outro....

Alasdair5000

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2014, 06:36:42 AM »
For those interested, the outro text (Which changed a little on air) is:




There are two elements of that story that fascinate me. The first is the idea of engagement being the price for immortality. Yes you can live forever but no, you can’t ever be public. It’s a compelling, very human response that speaks to compassion and fear in equal proportion. Compassion in the voluntary removal of yourself from a society that would forever be changed by your true nature being known, fear because of what that society might do when it discovered you. It’s the most grounded response to immortality I’ve seen in a long time, including Duncan Mcleod’s roaring trade as an antique collector. It’s also a hugely refreshing change from the sort of Vandal Savage/Xerxes esque decision to rule the world as a Godking just because you can’t be killed.

The second is the desire to leave something of yourself behind. The idea of adding to the cave art, of adding to history, is one that speaks to the core ideals of being creative. We want to be remembered. We want people after us to say ‘they were here’ and when that doesn’t work, it can break us in two. Being creative is immensely, soulcrushingly difficult, especially at the moment. Throw a rock at industry news for the last couple of weeks and you’ll see news of companies in trouble, books cancelled and lots of people scrabbling for not very much work. It’s tough out there, so if you get an opportunity to draw something on history, whether it’s a smiling face in an exploding warp core or a dancing deer near some cave paintings, do it. History is made by the people who make history, not the people who patiently wait for history to arrive so they can make an appointment.

Here’s to them. All of humanity contained in that glorious subversion of expectation, the thumb in the eye of fate. The smiley face. The Kilroy was here. The dancing deers of Clifford Simak’s mind. Thank you sir.

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albionmoonlight

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2014, 07:43:09 AM »
I imagine that the outtro music acted up because it really wanted to be the Highlander Theme Song instead.

Thunderscreech

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2014, 08:07:38 AM »
Thanks, Alasdair!  Do you know if there is a transcript or separate audio of the story comments too? 

Alasdair5000

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2014, 08:22:15 AM »
The ending story comments are in that. If you want the intro too, here you go:

Welcome to Escape Pod, the weekly science fiction podcast where in a sense we are ALL clones of Tatiana Maslany.

This week’s story comes to you from Clifford D Simak. Simak is one of the all time greats, writing science fiction that started off in the traditional superscience mold of the 1930s but which soon became far kinder and more rounded. He wasn’t quite the Norman Rockwell of science fiction but he could certainly see that position from where he was and remains as much a spiritual and thematic contemporary of Bradbury as anyone else. He was named the third Grand Master of the SFWA in 1977 and was one of the inaugural recipients the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement along with Fritz Leiber and Frank Belknap Long. To borrow a quote from Bill Murray, euologizing the late, great Harold Ramis, he earned his place and then some.
•   This week’s story first appeared in Analog in 1980 and won both the Hugo and Nebul a for Best Short Story in 1981. His other career achievements include International Fantasy Award for best fiction book (1953) for City
•   Hugo Award for best novelette (1959) for The Big Front Yard
•   Hugo Award for best novel (1964) for Way Station
•   Jupiter Award for best novel (1978) for A Heritage of Stars
•   Hugo Award for best short story (1981) for Grotto of the Dancing Deer
•   Nebula Award for best short story (1981) for Grotto of the Dancing Deer[1]
•   Locus Award for best short story (1981) for Grotto of the Dancing Deer
•   Analog Analytical Laboratory award for best short story (1981) for Grotto of the Dancing Deer

Frungi

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2014, 02:30:44 PM »
I think he meant Nathan’s feedback segment. I want to hear or read that, too!

So I’m guessing what’s done is done and the episode can’t be re-edited and re-uploaded. Shame. But thanks for the outro transcript!

Thunderscreech

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2014, 04:44:21 PM »
I think he meant Nathan’s feedback segment.
I did indeed! 

Alasdair5000

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2014, 05:02:09 PM »
Not my wheelhouse, I'm afraid folks. If it's to hand I'm sure it'll be put up though

matweller

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2014, 09:11:59 PM »
Thank you for the heads-up all! An updated/corrected file is now available for download.

Scattercat

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2014, 11:11:29 PM »
The feedback text is like ninety percent already posted in the relevant thread, you guys.  And half of what I write is a formula anyway.  ("And that's all for this week; join us next week when we [topically appropriate stupid joke].")
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Max e^{i pi}

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2014, 12:09:41 AM »
No, Nathan, you don't understand.
It's all about getting to hear your moniker on the internet. Remember call in radio from back before there was an internet? Where if you were very lucky you could call in and get a shout out, or maybe request a song? So this is replacing that.
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Thunderscreech

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2014, 09:13:29 AM »
Also, I enjoy hearing how you point-counterpoint the discussions.  Sometimes you juxtapose two comments that I didn't realize were connected because maybe I'm a little slow.  The episode comments add value, even to sinful forumites.  DEAL WITH IT.  ;D

Scattercat

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2014, 10:17:56 AM »
Oh, I curate the comments something fierce to suit my own purposes, never fear. :-)
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Varda

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Re: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2014, 10:20:05 AM »
No, Nathan, you don't understand.
It's all about getting to hear your moniker on the internet. Remember call in radio from back before there was an internet? Where if you were very lucky you could call in and get a shout out, or maybe request a song? So this is replacing that.

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