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Author Topic: Pseudopod 400: The Screwfly Solution  (Read 21325 times)

Bdoomed

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on: August 23, 2014, 12:34:42 AM
Pseudopod 400: The Screwfly Solution
400!  What?!

by James Tiptree Jr.

“The Screwfly Solution” first appeared in the June 1977 issue of Analog, won the Nebula award for Novelette in 1978 and has been reprinted multiple times since then. In 2006 it was adapted by Sam Hamm and Joe Dante as an episode of Showtime Network’s Masters of Horror series. It is being podcast with the permission of the Tiptree estate through the Virginia Kidd agency.

JAMES TIPTREE JR. was the pseudonym of Alice B. Sheldon (1915-1987). She was a photo-intelligence officer in WWII as well as a CIA agent, which formed the bulk of her career before academia. This experience was influential on her stories, including her in-depth understanding of national and international responses to crises. After her career with the CIA, she achieved a doctorate at George Washington University in Experimental Psychology in 1967, and her doctoral dissertation was on the responses of animals to novel stimuli in differing environments. You can see this reflected in her work and in this story. It was at this time that she started writing science fiction stories under a pseudonym to protect her new academic career, and chose a male name to fit in better at the magazines. In addition to James Tiptree, she published under the pseudonym Raccoona Sheldon. Tiptree also won two more Nebulas, two Hugos, and a World Fantasy Award. She was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2012. In 1991, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award was named in her honor, and recognizes speculative fiction that expands or explores our understanding of gender. This story was later collected in HER SMOKE ROSE UP FOREVER. If you only pick up one Tiptree collection, and you should, this is a great place to start..

Your readers on this special episode include Matt Franklin as Alan, Tina Connolly as Anne, Anna Schwind as Amy, Matt Weller as Barney and Rish Outfield, Eric Luke, George Hrab & Jarus Durnett in supporting roles.

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“AP/Nassau: The excursion liner Carib Swallow reached port under tow today after striking an obstruction in the Gulf Stream off Cape Hatteras. The obstruction was identified as part of a commercial trawler’s seine floated by female corpses. This confirms reports from Florida and the Gulf of the use of such seines, some of them over a mile in length. Similar reports coming from the Pacific coast and as far away as Japan indicate a growing hazard to coastwise shipping.”




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 01:05:17 AM by Sgarre1 »

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Fenrix

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Reply #1 on: August 23, 2014, 01:43:58 AM
This is the first story to give me nightmares in years. Great stuff.

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Reply #2 on: August 24, 2014, 02:44:18 AM
I thought this story sounded familiar... I remember now. I think I read it in high school, in one of the Analogue Magazines they had in the library. By the Throne... the reading is great, and I want to keep listening, but I'm not sure I can. It really messed me up when I read it, and I can't imagine that listening to it will be any easier.

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Varda

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Reply #3 on: August 24, 2014, 12:27:39 PM
There are so many great things about this story, I don't even know where to start. I guess, in no particular order....

1. Thank you, Alex and the whole PP team, for putting in the work to track down rights for this one.

2. The full-cast reading was great! I especially loved Tina Connolly as Anne, and generally how all the various letters and newspaper clippings were read by different voices. Had a nice, immersive effect.

3. I think what I love about this story as a piece of horror is how it's a story about systematic rape and violence against women that captures why this is friggin' terrifying no matter what your gender is. For men, the fear is being betrayed by your own biological programming, having it hijacked and reprogrammed to murder women you love *BECAUSE* you love them. It seems in this story that the more intense positive feelings a guy has for his female family members, the more powerfully it gets converted into mindless bloodlust (which is why cross-dressing and being anonymous kinda sorta works for Anne at the end). It was absolutely heartbreaking to watch Alan come to the realization that he was the most dangerous thing in the world to his family, and that he couldn't trust himself to see them without hurting them. And even worse when his daughter goes looking for him in a fit of teenage rebellion, not understanding her father wouldn't be able to keep himself from hurting her.

For women, the scary thing about this story is the way the world reacts to the mass murder of women throughout the piece. It's best summed up in this bit here:

Quote
The weird part is that no one seems to be doing anything, as if it's just too big. Selina Peters has been printing some acid comments, like: When one man kills his wife you call murder, but when enough do it we call it a life-style.

For me, this was even more scary than all the dudes of the world becoming rapist-murderers all at once, because it hits a little closer to reality: the way violence against women is so widespread and common that it's practically a non-story. I'm reminded of the #YesAllWomen conversation on Twitter, where women shared personal stories about harassment and violence, and how even just posting to that hashtag was enough to get you a free bonus rape threat from random dudes who feel completely comfortable behaving this way in public. And yet, Twitter as a company still considers rape threats a non-issue, not something to ban an account over. Violence against women isn't crime, it's a "life style", if you will.

4. Usually I loathe the "Surprise, It's Aliens!" plot twist, but this was so well-executed that it got a slow clap from me. I love how Tiptree brings the whole story back around to the fact that all life on Earth is ultimately related, and that anything we do to another species is hypothetically something that could happen to humans, under the right circumstances. Tiptree's stories often explore the theme of biological determinism, but I think this is one of her finest on the subject. (I also love "A Momentary Taste of Being", which is much much longer, but if you want more sick Tiptree sci-horror, I recommend it).

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ElectricPaladin

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Reply #4 on: August 24, 2014, 04:08:23 PM
4. Usually I loathe the "Surprise, It's Aliens!" plot twist, but this was so well-executed that it got a slow clap from me. I love how Tiptree brings the whole story back around to the fact that all life on Earth is ultimately related, and that anything we do to another species is hypothetically something that could happen to humans, under the right circumstances. Tiptree's stories often explore the theme of biological determinism, but I think this is one of her finest on the subject. (I also love "A Momentary Taste of Being", which is much much longer, but if you want more sick Tiptree sci-horror, I recommend it).

The trouble with "Surprise, It's Aliens!" is that it's overplayed... this story comes from back in the day before that happened.

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Reply #5 on: August 24, 2014, 04:18:35 PM
The trouble with "Surprise, It's Aliens!" is that it's overplayed... this story comes from back in the day before that happened.

It was pretty overplayed even in 1977 ;-)

But this particular instance was played pretty darn will in my opinion. Especially the foreshadowing with the third-party reports of "angels" earlier in the story.



Varda

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Reply #6 on: August 24, 2014, 04:46:18 PM
The trouble with "Surprise, It's Aliens!" is that it's overplayed... this story comes from back in the day before that happened.

It was pretty overplayed even in 1977 ;-)

But this particular instance was played pretty darn will in my opinion. Especially the foreshadowing with the third-party reports of "angels" earlier in the story.

Yeah, this. :) It's tired enough that I even roll my eyes when it pops up in classic SF (knowing it must have been fresh at some point in time), but I genuinely liked how it unfolded in this story. Certainly Nebula-worthy. :)

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ElectricPaladin

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Reply #7 on: August 24, 2014, 04:52:03 PM
Guys... I'm listening to the rest of the story. The reading is too good, even though I know how it ends. I'm going to need a hug when all this is over.

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Varda

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Reply #8 on: August 24, 2014, 04:59:41 PM
I'll just leave this right here for when you're done. :)


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Varda

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Reply #9 on: August 25, 2014, 02:19:47 AM
The reason that this is awesomely good horror is because it makes you think about all the times you had the impulse to whack some annoying bitch. You didn't do it (presumably) because you knew that it would be wrong (I'm assuming) and you also knew that the consequences would be problematic (at best). But still, the impulse was there, and wouldn't it have been satisfying to indulge it?

I'm not sure who you meant by "you", but I for one have never had the impulse to "whack" a "bitch", and I don't think most of the folks on this forum have had the desire to violently assault a woman, either.

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Reply #10 on: August 25, 2014, 01:08:41 PM
It's interesting to consider how this story plays with expectations. We're led to believe that Ann is the stereotypical flighty housewife of the 50's waiting with martini and slippers for her husband. One prone to go into hysterics, who just needs a good slap to bring her back to normalcy. Yet by the end we're shown that she's self reliant and was a doctor in her previous life. How we perceive Ann seems to be an inkblot test. One of many in this story.

One of the core principles of horror is powerlessness and its presentation. There's powerlessness here to sink its claws in everyone. The method in which information is parceled out, both by the author and the restrictions in the world (Facebook is filtering negative stories from your feed). A congressional committee report declaring that all is well. The inability to protect or even interact with your family. The lack of control due to some warped bit of DNA. The thought that we are no more than a fly with larvae growing in the naval cavities and brain.

The most chilling bit for me was the military driver being glad that the epidemiologist was not sexually violated (almost in a fashion where he would have been disgusted by the concept of a sexual act) but he was totally fine with the wounds and all the implications they held. So many layers to everything, but this was the section that opened the flood gates.

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Reply #11 on: August 25, 2014, 01:30:50 PM
Damn, this was good.  I think this is only the ummmm... third story by Tiptree that I've read, but I need to read more, obviously.  In some ways her versatility and crazed imagination remind me of PKD, one of my favorite authors, but she has a very unique feel to her work. 

Interesting how one might guess at the personal character of Tiptree when reading this story if you thought she was a man or if you thought she was a woman, and might guess differently.

This story has aged remarkably well, and had me going throughout.  The only minor quibble I had is that I thought that the reveal of what the main character's relationship was like was introduced so late in the story, it was kind of a distraction where it was placed.  But great story overall.

I think that much of the reason why "it's aliens" ending worked is that it WASN'T a twist.  There were a lot of solid clues laid throughout to the nature of the problem.  I guessed aliens about halfway through when I realized that what was happening was remarkably similar to the screwflies, and of course then the title tied it all together.  The angel sighting wasn't what tipped me off, though that was certainly a clue in the chain of clues.  Though I figured out that it was aliens before it was stated in the story, I thought this was about the perfect level of clue-laying.  Lay too many clues and the reader figures it out early and gets frustrated when the characters are too stupid to get it (i.e. Parasite by Mira Grant comes to mind), lay too few and it becomes a corny Twilight Zone wannabe that ages badly once you know what happens.  This was the Goldilocks zone of clue-laying.



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Reply #12 on: August 26, 2014, 02:58:48 PM
I wasn't so sure it was aliens until the end. I expected something on the poisons used on screwflies affecting humans, a sort of environmental beat on how the chemicals we are using on our food could affect us as well.  It was effectively disturbing with the violence moving beyond sex to family members who are female, and the complete disregard for female life at the end.  The men and boys coming into the shop laughing without any thought that half the human population was gone.

This story and last week's stories were very well related, both dealing with violence to women and both dealing with sexual relations.  I sense a theme going on. 



Loren Eaton

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Reply #13 on: August 26, 2014, 08:52:21 PM
Holy mackerel, what a downer. I mean, it's an incredibly well-written and amazingly performed downer. But the impending extermination of humanity isn't a cheery subject.

I've never read Thomas M. Disch's The Genocides, but it sounds an awful lot like this short.

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Reply #14 on: August 26, 2014, 09:26:02 PM
I wasn't so sure it was aliens until the end. I expected something on the poisons used on screwflies affecting humans, a sort of environmental beat on how the chemicals we are using on our food could affect us as well. 

That crossed my mind as well, and there was a hint in that direction when the description of the screwfly solution stated straight out that humans could eat it with no harm.  It occurred to me there that some chemicals' effects can only be discerned with very long term studies and perhaps it didn't get the testing it deserved.  It also occurred to me that there could be a coverup of any bad results found because profit.

The reason I ended up deciding it must be aliens was that the dispersal pattern appeared to be by dumping large quantities directly in the jetstream.  With the quantity and exact placement I imagined for that dispersal pattern to show, it would have to entirely intentional.  The screwflies seemed like a more local application perhaps by helicopter, not something you'd want to send round the world.  It could have been humans exterminating humans on purpose, I suppose, but I don't honestly think it's that common for a group of people to want to kill everyone including themselves, more to want to kill some subset of the rest of humanity.  But, with the screwfly parallel it would make sense for some kind of more advanced species to be disposing of us as a pest.



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Reply #15 on: August 26, 2014, 10:11:13 PM
This was well-done and a wonderful choice. Congratulations all around!

Not to steal thunder, but have you seen the "Masters of Horror" adaptation? It too is brilliant.



SpareInch

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Reply #16 on: August 27, 2014, 03:42:24 PM
Oh for crying out loud!

Where's my To Read List?

Anyone got a pencil?

"Read Complete works of James Tiptree Jr."

Damned list just keeps on growing! ;)

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Reply #17 on: August 27, 2014, 11:30:05 PM
The complete works aren't actually available in print, unfortunately. But the collection "Her Smoke Rose Up Forever" is very much worth reading.



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Reply #18 on: August 28, 2014, 12:36:09 AM
It was a while before I could even read the comments, this story messed me up bad.
I had to take a break in the middle for sleep and icecream when the casual mention of abandoned ships full of women's bodies gave me some pretty severe nausea.

so disturbed.

this story is awful especially as a women because we do face such serious and immediate blow back when we challenge problems in real life, just as in this reality nothing was done about the killing except silencing the women trying to bring attention to it.







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Reply #19 on: August 28, 2014, 01:33:54 PM
The complete works aren't actually available in print, unfortunately. But the collection "Her Smoke Rose Up Forever" is very much worth reading.

I haven't read anything near the complete list, but had heard another one recently on a podcast, Love is the Plan the Plan is Death:
http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/love-is-the-plan-the-plan-is-death/



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Reply #20 on: August 28, 2014, 02:18:41 PM
this story is awful especially as a women because we do face such serious and immediate blow back when we challenge problems in real life, just as in this reality nothing was done about the killing except silencing the women trying to bring attention to it.

Yeah, I agree. A lot of the horror was in the fact that Tiptree was dead on about how the world would react to this. Some complaints, some grief, but a far smaller response than the situation deserves. Urgh.

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Reply #21 on: August 28, 2014, 06:20:34 PM
As others have pointed out, the story has a lot of thought provoking layers to it. But most of all, the slow creep of The End for humanity is really terrifying. It's that slow realization that something awful is happening, and the band is just playing on as if everything is OK. Shudderific stuff. The TV adaptation did a decent job of recreating this atmosphere, though the original story's way if being told through clippings and notes is more effective overall.

My only complaint would be that the cluelessness of the daughter seems a bit convenient, even allowing for the Freudian psychology thing she seems to have going on with love for the father and resentment of the mother and all. Even with somewhat limited press coverage, it seems like everyone has at least heard of what is going on in the story, so I wonder how she could not at least suspect what is happening with daddy. I know teens can seem to lack common sense, but wow.
 
The timing of this presentation could not be much better, what with the Internet discussion of the treatment of women in certain cultures going on lately. Seems like everything from geek, to gamer, to workplace culture has been accused of exclusionary or even aggressive behaviors towards women lately, and the forum debates follow.

I have noticed that women themselves actually don't seem to always just be on one side of the debate. One woman will complain of overly revealing clothing on heroines in movies and games, while another will snarkily ask if putting women in burqas would be PC enough for everyone. I guess it's a healthy debate, though it can be hard to keep up with it all. So many "cultures", so little time.



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #22 on: August 29, 2014, 01:34:34 AM
As others have pointed out, the story has a lot of thought provoking layers to it. But most of all, the slow creep of The End for humanity is really terrifying. It's that slow realization that something awful is happening, and the band is just playing on as if everything is OK. Shudderific stuff. The TV adaptation did a decent job of recreating this atmosphere, though the original story's way if being told through clippings and notes is more effective overall.

My only complaint would be that the cluelessness of the daughter seems a bit convenient, even allowing for the Freudian psychology thing she seems to have going on with love for the father and resentment of the mother and all. Even with somewhat limited press coverage, it seems like everyone has at least heard of what is going on in the story, so I wonder how she could not at least suspect what is happening with daddy. I know teens can seem to lack common sense, but wow.
 
The timing of this presentation could not be much better, what with the Internet discussion of the treatment of women in certain cultures going on lately. Seems like everything from geek, to gamer, to workplace culture has been accused of exclusionary or even aggressive behaviors towards women lately, and the forum debates follow.

I have noticed that women themselves actually don't seem to always just be on one side of the debate. One woman will complain of overly revealing clothing on heroines in movies and games, while another will snarkily ask if putting women in burqas would be PC enough for everyone. I guess it's a healthy debate, though it can be hard to keep up with it all. So many "cultures", so little time.

I teach middle schoolers. Yes, they suck at life that much. I can totally seen most teens I know pulling something this dumb. I doubt slightly older teens are any smarter.

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Reply #23 on: August 29, 2014, 02:17:05 AM
I haven't gotten around to listening to this yet; Tiptree is one of my favorite short story authors, so I'm trying to wait for a time when I can really concentrate on it.

But slight bit of trivia: this story was published under the pen-name Raccoona Sheldon, in 1977, and Tiptree was pretty much outed by 1976 (when Tip mentioned that her writer mother died in Chicago and someone found the obit for her mother, which mentioned her only child--a daughter). Now, since this was '76, I'm not sure how quickly the news spread; and I'm not sure how obvious it was that Tip was Raccoona. If I remember correctly, I think there's some story about Tip recommending Raccoona to some editor that liked Tip's work and that being the first time anyone heard of Raccoona, but don't quote me on that.

Actually, far better than listening to my half-remembered bits of trivia, if you're intereted in Alice Bradley Sheldon, I highly recommend Julie Philips's biography of her. Though I also recommend reading a bunch of her stories beforehand, because a) Philips doesn't mind spoiling decades-old stories and b) I think Philips gives really plain interpretations of the stories.



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Reply #24 on: August 29, 2014, 04:02:33 AM
Some of that was in the intro, benjaminjb, but thanks for the bits that weren't. ;)

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Reply #25 on: August 29, 2014, 11:14:45 PM
I haven't read any Tiptree, but recently bought Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. This story was so well executed and treads a narrow line between over the top and all too believable.

The story was so good that when I picked my friend up to drive to a hike, I started telling her about it, and she said to go ahead and play it from the middle. So she listened to it only after Alan got to the airport layover, and it still impressed her.

Also regarding the soldier and the doctor: I thought the mayor did rape the doctor, hence why his privates were bloody. I thought the mayor had raped her, then pulled down her dress. After all, it was a scene staged specifically for the soldier's benefit.



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Reply #26 on: August 30, 2014, 12:05:13 AM
Also regarding the soldier and the doctor: I thought the mayor did rape the doctor, hence why his privates were bloody. I thought the mayor had raped her, then pulled down her dress. After all, it was a scene staged specifically for the soldier's benefit.

I had thought that it was possible that there was forced sexual entry of a... different sort, given the incisions in her neck and chest. That felt like a reference to the titular screwflies, who had been altered so that the male mated with the wrong body part.

Honestly, that felt like a bit of an inconsistency. It was quite clear that the men weren't becoming rapists - in fact, they were becoming strangely asexual. This wasn't sexualized violence, it was gendered violence, which is part of what made it so eerie. We're pretty inured to sexualized violence in our society, but I think that gendered violence - for example, those women who were gunned down by that maniac because they were women (now you're all going to say "which girl-gunning-down maniac do you mean" and I'm going to reply "I don't want to live on this planet anymore") - still bothers us. But then there's the scene with the mayor, and it leaves a lot of questions.

My take on it was that one of two things happened:

 1) There was a greater degree of sexualization to the killings than the narrator was reporting, but since all the narrators were more or less unreliable - even the main characters were restrained by not wanting to write about gory details before things got bad, or not wanting to bother writing about the horrible truths once it was too late to do anything about them anyway - it had to be implied sideways, which Tiptree did through the mayor scene. In this case, I'd call it Tiptree's only mistake in the story. I understand wanting to make the references to sexualized murder oblique, to account for the sensibilities of the characters, but if all you're going to do is imply it, you've got to do it more than once, especially if the rest of the content seems to imply that violence is replacing sex, not being added to it (and really, if violence was just being added to their sexual desires, why didn't they just all become kinky?).

2) The killings were more sexualized in an original draft, and Tiptree missed it in the mayor scene in an early draft.

Don't take this as serious criticism - I loved the story. But... the mayor scene did seem a bit odd to me.

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Reply #27 on: August 30, 2014, 12:20:25 AM
Also regarding the soldier and the doctor: I thought the mayor did rape the doctor, hence why his privates were bloody. I thought the mayor had raped her, then pulled down her dress. After all, it was a scene staged specifically for the soldier's benefit.

I had thought that it was possible that there was forced sexual entry of a... different sort, given the incisions in her neck and chest. That felt like a reference to the titular screwflies, who had been altered so that the male mated with the wrong body part.

The alternate aperture had occurred to me (although not the analogy to screwflies), as well as the idea that maybe he masturbated during/after with blood on his hands.

Thanks, speculative fiction, for all the things you make me speculate about!

When Ann minimized her concerns, I thought, that's just how women are socialized- to minimize our fears of very real matters. And then I also wondered, what, not a single woman had access to a rifle or handgun? It might not have changed the overall outcome, of course. And just now it occurred to me: maybe just as the men were altered to become violent instead of sexual, the women were altered to be more passive and accepting.

And that led me to think, what if trans people weren't susceptible to this alteration? Or gay people? That might be an interesting angle to the story. Although again, probably wouldn't change the ultimate outcome.



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Reply #28 on: August 30, 2014, 12:32:40 AM
And that led me to think, what if trans people weren't susceptible to this alteration? Or gay people? That might be an interesting angle to the story. Although again, probably wouldn't change the ultimate outcome.

I suppose trans people might be effected weirdly if they're on HRT.

I thought there was a reference to young men being killed as well. I thought that was meant to represent gay men, who were widely thought in Tiptree's time (even among people who were decent to them) to prefer either young men or young-seeming adult men.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2014, 11:02:37 AM by eytanz »

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Reply #29 on: August 30, 2014, 11:59:00 AM
I'm pretty sure sexualized violence was recurring. I recall that there was implication that the dead boy in the airport bathroom had been raped before being killed.

I think the docile asexuality became more of a thing as all the women and children were killed or driven out, so there was no one around dressed like they "deserve it".

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Reply #30 on: August 30, 2014, 12:05:15 PM
I got the impression from the scene when the main character took his knife out when he was fantasising about his wife, that the killer urge began as normal sexual desire. I had thought the mayor had raped the doctor up to that point, but then decided he had set out to do so, then killed her. Also, the women in the airport were all dressing frumpily so they would be safer, which implies they must have worked out the sex link for themselves.

The killer urge would seem to grow though, until simple gender is enough to trigger it, unless Tiptree had a very negative view of Daddy/Daughter relationships.

Another clue that the effect was sexually triggered was the murdered man in the toilets. Also confirming that Gay men were susceptible.

As for Trans people. I have no idea what would have happened at the time of the story, but I suspect only Transsexuals would have been taking hormones, so if they weren't effected, what difference would that make? There's no need to sterilise eunuchs, is there?

And even Pre Ops and, in today's world, Transvestites taking anti androgen or feminising hormones would still turn killer once the supply of their medication started to run out. Assuming they hadn't already been killed for looking too femme.

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Reply #31 on: August 30, 2014, 04:51:56 PM
I think it's possible that the frumpy dressing wasn't to disguise their sex appeal, it was to describe their sex entirely.

I just see a little inconsistency. The mayor seems to have raped (or at least penetrated) the woman in the early part of the story, and it's true - there's some evidence that the man in the men's room was raped. His clothes were ripped off, for some reason, anyway. But then Alan describes the sensation as the sexual urge being replaced entirely with the urge to stab. He doesn't describe it as "we are going to have hot monkey sex and then I'll stab her" it's "why is my knife out? Oh shit! I was imagining stabbing my wife!" Also, the army dude who was infected, he did not seem to experience a fierce desire to rape and kill - rather, he experienced a calmer sense that the mayor's actions were correct, a certain complacency, which does not fit into the idea that it's purely based on arousal leading to both sex and murder, but to a more primal rewiring in which female = person to kill, not person to mate with.

Or perhaps I'm reading too much into the details.

Also, I wouldn't be so fast as to say that Alan killing his daughter means that the urge was purely gender-based. The part of your brain that appreciates the attractiveness of a potential mate doesn't care about the things that the higher part of your brain does, like how old they are or if they are related to you. Other parts of our brain take care of that. Tiptree might just have acknowledged that even a father can look at his daughter, and part of his brain can say "I'd hit that." The measure of a human being isn't what his lizard brain wants to bang, it's what he does about it.

So, obviously, the Human Solution had to do something to short-circuit that process, allowing arousal to put the mis-wired lizard brain in charge, which is why Alan killed his daughter.

I mean, otherwise most people would just become celibate or sublimate their new violent impulses to become incredibly kinky. And while that would be an interesting story, I don't think the story of how the entire world became kinksters is what Tiptree was trying to tell ;D.

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Reply #32 on: September 02, 2014, 01:03:19 PM
The reason that this is awesomely good horror is because it makes you think about all the times you had the impulse to whack some annoying bitch. You didn't do it (presumably) because you knew that it would be wrong (I'm assuming) and you also knew that the consequences would be problematic (at best). But still, the impulse was there, and wouldn't it have been satisfying to indulge it?

I'm not sure who you meant by "you", but I for one have never had the impulse to "whack" a "bitch", and I don't think most of the folks on this forum have had the desire to violently assault a woman, either.

Unfortunately, the EA forum is not representative of actual humanity.

For one thing, if it was, humanity would be much more well-read and would take a lesson from the past and apply it to the present.

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Reply #33 on: September 02, 2014, 01:04:26 PM
FWIW, I'm with ElectricPaladin that the mayor scene seemed inconsistent with the rest.

Also, I wouldn't be so fast as to say that Alan killing his daughter means that the urge was purely gender-based. The part of your brain that appreciates the attractiveness of a potential mate doesn't care about the things that the higher part of your brain does, like how old they are or if they are related to you. Other parts of our brain take care of that. Tiptree might just have acknowledged that even a father can look at his daughter, and part of his brain can say "I'd hit that." The measure of a human being isn't what his lizard brain wants to bang, it's what he does about it.

That was my take on it as well.



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Reply #34 on: September 02, 2014, 04:40:52 PM
Fantastic story, well acted. Bravo.



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Reply #35 on: September 03, 2014, 10:13:41 AM

Loved it too!! More gems like this please!!



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Reply #36 on: September 10, 2014, 08:34:53 PM
Loved it.  Was scared by it.  Can't say enough about it that has not been said above.

I do remember one part of the story where the protagonist noted that once the breeding population of a targeted insect got low enough, they stopped applying the poison because what was the point after that.  You are just a generation or two away from eradicating the pest.

Which makes me think that the aliens will soon stop pumping the poison into the jet stream.  Which leads to the horrific thought that these surviving men will get their humanity back before they die.  That at some point in the future, the poison will wear off, and they will start to have normal feelings and desires again and realize what they have done (even if most of them never know why).  At that point, it will be too late.



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Reply #37 on: September 13, 2014, 01:35:18 PM
Congrats for number 400! And a good story for the anniversary as well. After listening to it, I didn't have access to the net for three days and had already thought out a thoughtful answer to the forum, but now I of course forgot it.  ;D

While listening to it I didn't even notice it was almost 40 years old.



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Reply #38 on: September 13, 2014, 03:34:52 PM
Loved it.  Was scared by it.  Can't say enough about it that has not been said above.

I do remember one part of the story where the protagonist noted that once the breeding population of a targeted insect got low enough, they stopped applying the poison because what was the point after that.  You are just a generation or two away from eradicating the pest.

Which makes me think that the aliens will soon stop pumping the poison into the jet stream.  Which leads to the horrific thought that these surviving men will get their humanity back before they die.  That at some point in the future, the poison will wear off, and they will start to have normal feelings and desires again and realize what they have done (even if most of them never know why).  At that point, it will be too late.

Eh. If it's any "consolation," the way the human brain works, most of them will have justified their actions to the point that "I kill women" is part of their self-schema and will remain so even after the poison goes away.

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Reply #39 on: September 17, 2014, 12:26:15 PM
Loved it.  Was scared by it.  Can't say enough about it that has not been said above.

I do remember one part of the story where the protagonist noted that once the breeding population of a targeted insect got low enough, they stopped applying the poison because what was the point after that.  You are just a generation or two away from eradicating the pest.

Which makes me think that the aliens will soon stop pumping the poison into the jet stream.  Which leads to the horrific thought that these surviving men will get their humanity back before they die.  That at some point in the future, the poison will wear off, and they will start to have normal feelings and desires again and realize what they have done (even if most of them never know why).  At that point, it will be too late.

Eh. If it's any "consolation," the way the human brain works, most of them will have justified their actions to the point that "I kill women" is part of their self-schema and will remain so even after the poison goes away.

Also, if I were the aliens, I'd keep applying the poisons later in the case of humanity because unlike insects given the chance we might come up with a scientific counter if given the chance.



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Reply #40 on: September 23, 2014, 11:42:06 AM
This is the first story to give me nightmares in years. Great stuff.
Me too Fenrix



davidthygod

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Reply #41 on: September 26, 2014, 05:28:33 PM
As I was listening, it kept sounding like a very familiar premise.  I definitely remember it from Masters of Horror. 

This was great, way better than what I remember about the MoH adaptation.  Great production value on this one too.

This should get an Escape Pod replay, it has more scifi elements that a lot of what is on EP at times.


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Reply #42 on: September 26, 2014, 06:01:37 PM
This should get an Escape Pod replay, it has more scifi elements that a lot of what is on EP at times.

Nah, for those of us who listen to all the casts, wouldn't want to redundify the content.  :)  I think the only time that's happened (and with good reason) was when a Podcastle story got nominated for the Hugo and so re-ran on Escape Pod in Hugo Month. 

I think there's a thread over in the Escape Pod section to recommend Pseudopod stories that EP listeners might dig, so this would be a good one to suggest there.



davidthygod

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Reply #43 on: September 26, 2014, 06:19:57 PM
Nah, for those of us who listen to all the casts, wouldn't want to redundify the content.  :)  I think the only time that's happened (and with good reason) was when a Podcastle story got nominated for the Hugo and so re-ran on Escape Pod in Hugo Month. 

I think there's a thread over in the Escape Pod section to recommend Pseudopod stories that EP listeners might dig, so this would be a good one to suggest there.

Thanks,  I agree that the "redundification" would be annoying (I listen to both as well), but I was really just taking a dig at EP for covering so many stories that aren't all that scifi : ).  Its an irritating need of mine to nitpick things that I really like.  Don't ever change EP.

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Reply #44 on: January 05, 2015, 02:53:20 PM
I put this as #1 on my Best of Pseudopod 2014 list posted this morning:
http://www.diabolicalplots.com/?p=12662



Fenrix

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Reply #45 on: January 26, 2015, 08:40:20 PM

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Quib

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Reply #46 on: January 27, 2015, 10:32:14 AM
More fuel for the fire: http://io9.com/millions-of-mutated-mosquitoes-could-be-unleashed-in-fl-1681781555
no that's not fuel on any fire. This is a tested means of pest control. releasing infertile males.  I'm going to flip out over the needless fear mongering over the word "genetic".

I'm not sure what you meant there, just willful ignorance and anti-science as political, it makes me so mad.

Back on topic,
The part of the story that really unsettled me was the military cult, and the neologisms. Because it isn't just biological impulses, it's the impulses and responses filtered through a culture that others and devalues women. I don't know what specific groups were being referenced in '77, but there's still groups where a person could discuss the murder of "crypto-females" and fit right in.

The inconsistency and uncertainty made it a more well rounded story for me.



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Reply #47 on: January 27, 2015, 02:16:21 PM
More fuel for the fire: http://io9.com/millions-of-mutated-mosquitoes-could-be-unleashed-in-fl-1681781555
no that's not fuel on any fire. This is a tested means of pest control. releasing infertile males.  I'm going to flip out over the needless fear mongering over the word "genetic".

I'm not sure what you meant there, just willful ignorance and anti-science as political, it makes me so mad.

Back on topic,


The articled was actually quite relevant, seeing as pest control like this was the scientific basis for the story. Reading the article made me think immediately of this story and it squidged me out again.

Also, io9 is generally about as pro-science as it gets. Popular science, for sure, but I'm struggling to see what really made you angry about the article. Could you elaborate?

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davidthygod

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Reply #48 on: January 27, 2015, 09:17:49 PM
Next step in this debate is to start railing against vaccinations and GMOs.  How dare science try and cure people and feed the world. 

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Quib

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Reply #49 on: January 28, 2015, 11:10:10 AM
Also, io9 is generally about as pro-science as it gets. Popular science, for sure, but I'm struggling to see what really made you angry about the article. Could you elaborate?
It's just a stupid, bad thing that there are significant groups of people whose brains shut down to some degree at the words "genetically modified".

I get that iO9 is using it in a funny click bait way, but it's still the opposite of productive dialog to frame it as "mutant mosquitoes could be unleashed" (first off, no one makes leashes for mosquitoes). They aren't bad and stupid, but the bad, stupid things are kept in motion by people who should know better engaging in "debates" that foster a false sense of equivalency.

I came to the forums partly because of how nice Alasdair keeps saying they are, so I'm trying to hold back from a full blown rant, but I could if that would be entertaining to people.



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Reply #50 on: January 28, 2015, 11:28:29 AM
Also, io9 is generally about as pro-science as it gets. Popular science, for sure, but I'm struggling to see what really made you angry about the article. Could you elaborate?
It's just a stupid, bad thing that there are significant groups of people whose brains shut down to some degree at the words "genetically modified".

I get that iO9 is using it in a funny click bait way, but it's still the opposite of productive dialog to frame it as "mutant mosquitoes could be unleashed" (first off, no one makes leashes for mosquitoes). They aren't bad and stupid, but the bad, stupid things are kept in motion by people who should know better engaging in "debates" that foster a false sense of equivalency.


That helps me. So to rephrase it, it's a good idea but you think they used poor rhetoric to convey that idea.


I came to the forums partly because of how nice Alasdair keeps saying they are, so I'm trying to hold back from a full blown rant, but I could if that would be entertaining to people.


You're welcome to rant, but keep it to ideas and not people, and make sure to observe The One Rule.

Welcome aboard, and have fun!

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #51 on: January 28, 2015, 04:11:15 PM
You're welcome to rant, but keep it to ideas and not people, and make sure to observe The One Rule.

I do love me a good rant, even if I don't agree with it.  But yes, the One Rule is the reason WHY these forums are such a great place, so choose the rant topic accordingly please.  :)



Quib

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Reply #52 on: February 01, 2015, 07:20:53 AM
Okay. I can be contrary, and opinionated, but I do my best to be civil, and I don't swear much because I'm not very good at it.

I'm not mad at a specific person, or even a specific group of people, it's this cycle of behavior from a lot of sources, that keep feeding into the worst parts of the attention economy. 

That helps me. So to rephrase it, it's a good idea but you think they used poor rhetoric to convey that idea.
It's more than just the rhetoric, when you write and article, you're setting parameters on the discussion. The information you include or leave out, like "some people are worried touching a mosquito could infect an organism with mosquito DNA",  is a statement about what's relevant and worth discussing. There's a lot that gets taken for granted. If you don't take for granted that "GMO" is an exciting buzzword to get you page views, we could talk about concerns that don't presuppose we are in the Axe Cop universe.

There's a desperate need for intelligent people to be mindful of how engaging with things, even to trash talk them, gives them attention. Ideas are powered by attention.


Anyway, I want to go back to talking about the episode.
I really like literature that takes a hard-sci-fi take on the soft sciences.
I'm curious about the Masters of Horror episode, but I'm concerned it'll just be exploitative and high shock value, with out the in depth psychology of the story.



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Reply #53 on: April 14, 2015, 11:32:33 PM
I'm not usually a Pseudopod listener (I get easily frightened, which makes some horror stories/movies etc. a rather unpleasant experience), but I've been meaning to read more Tiptree so I downloaded this one and oh. my. god. this was an amazing story, and the narration was fantastic too. All of it was so well done (and to weigh in on the sexualization of violence debate, I read it as the violence being inherently sexualized and connected to male sexuality, but the various religious cults popping up explained it in a non-sexual (or really, anti-sex) way because the sinfulness of women/sex was the best explanation that the doctrines of Christianity offered for what was happening. And those guys seemed to be the type of religious hypocrites who talked a big game about the sinfulness of sex while all the while getting off on the terrible things they do to women.

Also, I found Alasdair's talk of the Hugos at the end particularly bittersweet given all the furor over this year's Hugo nominations. Between the themes of the story and all my feelings about the Hugo stuff, there's a lot to think about in relation to the place of women and sexism both in genre fiction and in the broader world.



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Reply #54 on: January 03, 2020, 01:29:23 AM
One of my faves. Ann is such a sweet heart in her letters.  Is it just me, or does Barney's Voice sound like the hotel 6 guy that says, "we'll leave the light on for you?"



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Reply #55 on: January 03, 2020, 04:39:10 PM
One of my faves. Ann is such a sweet heart in her letters.  Is it just me, or does Barney's Voice sound like the hotel 6 guy that says, "we'll leave the light on for you?"

Yeah, I can hear a bit of the Motel 6 guy (aka Tom Bodett) in his voice.


I think this story is ok. I had recently read a flash fiction story by Fredric Brown that has a similar payoff so that may have lead me to feeling underwhelmed by the final revelation.

Pros: excellent production

Cons: The story feels a bit too long to me. You know almost immediately what is going on in the story and so the only mystery is what/who is responsible for it. The thing is, almost any answer to that question would have worked as well or better than the one we got wouldn't it?

Would the story have been more horrifying if we never learned why this was happening? I think it might have been.



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Reply #56 on: January 04, 2020, 05:29:02 AM
Interesting that conversation about this story has popped up again.  I was thinking about the story just yesterday, after hearing the premise of a movie that came out last year called “Light of My Life.”  It’s about a world in which a plague has killed virtually all the women and girls.  One of the characters in the movie is one of the few surviving girls on earth, and the plot is about how her father (played by Casey Affleck) tries to protect her from marauding men.  A different take from Tiptree’s, for sure.

I haven’t watched the movie yet, and am curious re:  whether anyone else has seen it.  Here’s a link:  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6063090/



Marlboro

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Reply #57 on: January 04, 2020, 01:29:56 PM
Interesting that conversation about this story has popped up again.  I was thinking about the story just yesterday, after hearing the premise of a movie that came out last year called “Light of My Life.”  It’s about a world in which a plague has killed virtually all the women and girls.  One of the characters in the movie is one of the few surviving girls on earth, and the plot is about how her father (played by Casey Affleck) tries to protect her from marauding men.  A different take from Tiptree’s, for sure.

I haven’t watched the movie yet, and am curious re:  whether anyone else has seen it.  Here’s a link:  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6063090/

Interesting. I'm always up for an "end of civilization as we know it" type story.


 
Casey Affleck's kid strolling into a post-Apocalyptic wasteland like




^ If you don't get this - Congrats! You're not old.



Languorous Lass

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Reply #58 on: January 04, 2020, 02:28:56 PM
Oh, I’m old, but I still don’t get it.



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Reply #59 on: January 04, 2020, 02:43:47 PM
80s teen comedy Just One of the Guys about a girl who goes undercover as a dude in high school for some reason that I can't remember and probably doesn't make any sense anyway.

It features a very young Sherilyn Fenn  and the blond punk from Karate Kid playing -you guessed it - a bully.