Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: Pseudopod 400: The Screwfly Solution  (Read 19285 times)

ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
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.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Metalsludge

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 74
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

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
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.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


benjaminjb

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1389
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.



SpareInch

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1388
  • Will there be sugar after the rebellion?
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. ;)

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW


bounceswoosh

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 305
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.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
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.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


bounceswoosh

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 305
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.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
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 »

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3848
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
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".

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


SpareInch

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1388
  • Will there be sugar after the rebellion?
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.

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW


ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
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.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Listener

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3187
  • I place things in locations which later elude me.
    • Various and Sundry Items of Interest
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.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8657
    • Diabolical Plots
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.



CaroCogitatus

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Reply #34 on: September 02, 2014, 04:40:52 PM
Fantastic story, well acted. Bravo.



blazingrebel

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Reply #35 on: September 03, 2014, 10:13:41 AM

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



albionmoonlight

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 213
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.



Moritz

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 504
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.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
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.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8657
    • Diabolical Plots
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.