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Author Topic: EP490: Flowers for Algernon  (Read 19300 times)

eytanz

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matweller

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Reply #1 on: April 21, 2015, 01:13:21 PM
It probably goes without saying, but this story is a classic in a lot of circles. If anybody knows a teacher that can pass this episode on to teachers that would be using this book in schools, it would be a great supplement. Have them contact me and I'll even be happy to get them re-edited versions without the intro & outro or we could probably even nudge Alasdair into doing an intro custom-tailored to schools...perhaps even to particular schools...

Point is, multimedia makes reading more interesting for kids, and this episode could help with that effort and we wouldn't mind the promo at all... ;)



Alasdair5000

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Reply #2 on: April 21, 2015, 01:30:23 PM
Consider me nudged:) This was an honor to talk about and I'd love to expand and modify the outro into teacher's notes. Everyone, all the way down the line, nailed this. Outstanding work, folks.



SpareInch

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Reply #3 on: April 21, 2015, 02:23:20 PM
You know, for years now, I've regularly heard Tony C Smith on the Starship Sofa podcast raving about what a great story Flowers For Algernon is...

I guess now I know why.

As Alistair said in the outro, at no point does Charlie's character or personality change. He just becomes gradually more, and then less, knowledgable and articulate. One of the big achievements of this story for me is that it managed to show that so effectively.

In the process, the study of the way people regard mental conditions of all sorts, whether illnesses or learning disabilities, was both touching and insightful.

Good call guys!

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW


matweller

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Reply #4 on: April 21, 2015, 03:28:13 PM
Now can we do Terminal Man, a.k.a. Flowers for Algernon + killing?



LynneSkysong

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Reply #5 on: April 22, 2015, 01:30:43 AM
I think the story well written, but what really made quite visceral to me was the way it was read. Not only did the words change, but also the flow of the story. I don't think this story would've made half impact on me it I had read it. I tend to read pretty fast and this forced me to see the story from Charles's point of view.



nem0fazer

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Reply #6 on: April 22, 2015, 04:45:49 AM
Amazing story, amazing reading. One of my all time favourites had me crying driving home from work so much I pulled over. Thank you. Sort of.



FullMetalAttorney

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Reply #7 on: April 22, 2015, 05:09:00 AM
I don't normally like the journal style of fiction writing. But this, this is beautiful. The author took what was such a simple sci-fi "What if?" scenario and turned it into an intensely human, touching, and ultimately heartbreaking story. That's what the very best of sci-fi can do.



Moon_Goddess

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Reply #8 on: April 22, 2015, 01:11:28 PM
I saw this in the feed and my first reaction was "Cool, good story, guess I can skip this episode, I remember we read this in the 7th grade, very sad.    Well, I'll listen to the intro and outros."

But after the intro I just kept listening.   I'm so glad I did.

Dave Thompson, your reading of this story was masterful.    I never thought about how hard it would be to bring the story to audio, so much of the story is conveyed in spelling and punctuation, and Dave you brought these attributes to your speech, in a way I could hear spelling mistakes in your voice.   That is talent, I could almost be inclined to call this the best reading ever.

And to Alistair, and to the wonderful late Mr. Keyes, damn you both for making me bawl my eyes out on on the drive to work.

After listening to this story I feel driven to embellish my speech with long words, hope no one listening to this has sesquipedalophobia.

Was dream6601 but that's sounds awkward when Nathan reads my posts.


albionmoonlight

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Reply #9 on: April 22, 2015, 03:19:12 PM
I have nothing to add.  One of my favorite stories of all time.  Presented with the care and attention it deserves.



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #10 on: April 24, 2015, 06:13:01 AM
God, will that last line ever not make me cry? :'(

Oh, yeah, and Alisdair - your exit didn't exactly help….  ;)



gotbot

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Reply #11 on: April 24, 2015, 08:01:44 PM
I was very touched by this story. I had never read it or even heard of it before. Dave, your reading was absolutely masterful. You brought Charlie to life in a beautiful way and your reading reinforced the effect the author intended with the bell curve of literacy reflected in the progress reports.

People who once felt superior to Charlie grew so uncomfortable around him as his intelligence progressed. This goes beyond discomfort with change or unfamiliarity. People often react badly when someone around them improves themselves in some way. This was magnified with Charlie's coworkers. This wasn't a normal man of their average intelligence outgrowing them. It was Charlie Gordon, the man who was the butt of their jokes, whose name was associated with stupidity and failure. For him to surpass them all, and so quickly, must have been extremely threatening to their egos. This theme culminated in the restaurant scene when Charlie suddenly realized the dishwasher boy was his old self and that he, Charlie, was now on the other side of the glass, just as amused as other patrons. But when he realizes this then stands up in anger and admonishes everybody in the room, I wanted to stand up and cheer! "But he's still a human being for God's sake!"

« Last Edit: April 24, 2015, 08:03:45 PM by gotbot »



bounceswoosh

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Reply #12 on: April 25, 2015, 10:56:10 PM
I saw this in the feed and my first reaction was "Cool, good story, guess I can skip this episode, I remember we read this in the 7th grade, very sad.    Well, I'll listen to the intro and outros."

But after the intro I just kept listening.   I'm so glad I did.

Dave Thompson, your reading of this story was masterful.    I never thought about how hard it would be to bring the story to audio, so much of the story is conveyed in spelling and punctuation, and Dave you brought these attributes to your speech, in a way I could hear spelling mistakes in your voice.   That is talent, I could almost be inclined to call this the best reading ever.

And to Alistair, and to the wonderful late Mr. Keyes, damn you both for making me bawl my eyes out on on the drive to work.

After listening to this story I feel driven to embellish my speech with long words, hope no one listening to this has sesquipedalophobia.
I was going to post, but you said exactly what I was going to. I was going to skip it; started listening anyway; DKT's reading brings it to a while new level. I'm only a few minutes in, but this story always makes me bawl; I expect this reading to be the same, just more.



l33tminion

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Reply #13 on: April 26, 2015, 01:19:21 AM
I really enjoyed hearing this story. Great writing and great narration.



Swamp

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Reply #14 on: April 26, 2015, 03:06:16 AM
And that, my friends, is why Dave Thompson is so awesome!  That is also why Alasdair Stuart is awesome.  Indeed, that is why Daniel Keyes and science fiction and podcasting and storytelling and emotion and art and life are all Awesome! That story, that reading, that commentary.  Perfect.

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


huntsoda360

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Reply #15 on: April 26, 2015, 03:59:28 AM
Wow! Having never read this, and not even really knowing what it was about, I found it so touching. Kind of surprised it's taught in middles schools/junior highs - it has an almost Frankenstein level discussion of science that I really enjoyed. Charlie and Algernon made me proud, scared, and sad. It was lovely.



NumberFive

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Reply #16 on: April 26, 2015, 05:13:50 AM
Listening to this story was amazing. Somehow I must have missed that week in school, because although I remembered the name of the story I did not know what it was about.  Or maybe I was daydreaming that week. Perhaps listening to an outstanding audio reading made it all the more impact foul. Great job everyone!



Unblinking

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Reply #17 on: April 27, 2015, 01:54:55 PM
I originally read this in a high school or junior high lit class, and it was one of those that really made me appreciate those classes--this is the best kind of science fiction to me, the kind that makes you care, the kind that makes you think not only ofwhat could be in some fictional world but about things in the real world.  As a teen I found Charlie positively charming, and loved the use of punctuation and spelling and grammar to show his progression and regression, and the story incredibly affecting.  Dave's reading was amazing, and only enhanced what is already an incredible story.

I've talked to my old English teacher from time to time, I think I might drop him a link to the podcast.

When I originally read it, there were a couple parts that I had trouble grasping entirely.  One was I didn't understand fully why he identified so strongly with Algernon, and had to have it explained to me that Charlie thinks of Algernon not only as a friend but as an analog for himself.  Another part I didn't notice in this story--maybe it was only in the novelized version?  I think we read the novelized version.  I think that in that version there was a scene where Charlie looked out the window (I think when his teacher was over for dinner?) and instead of seeing out or seeing his own reflection his saw the old Charlie, the less intelligent Charlie, looking back at him, and if I remember correctly he responds to this vision with rage.  At the time I didn't understand this at all, didn't understand that this hallucination was his mind building on a metaphor of the Charlie he used to be--I thought there was somehow an actual physical copy of him outside and found this hard to grasp.




Dwango

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Reply #18 on: April 28, 2015, 05:57:08 PM
This... My favorite Science Fiction Story.  I teared up again and I've read it multiple times.  Such a simple idea that can touch on so many important themes and create such strong emotion, and yet it is such a down to earth story and so personal.  Great narration of a wonderful classic. 



FireTurtle

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Reply #19 on: April 29, 2015, 02:03:53 AM
Oh EscapePod- like many, I thought about skipping this episode- but the tantalizing prospect of Dave's reading drew me in (and the daunting process of applying 200 star decals to my daughter's ceiling without entertainment).

You rewarded me greatly for my decision. Greatly. This is a story I treasure and you did it great justice. I applaud you for your bravery in choosing to take one this masterpiece, and pulling it off. I am also very happy to see that you have reached an audience that had not yet been exposed to this classic.

Bravo.

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
Ursula K. LeGuin


HeartSailor

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Reply #20 on: April 29, 2015, 03:23:00 AM
I'll throw my 2 cents worth in. 

A reason why this is a "comfortable read" for those familiar to Science Fiction.  A recurring theme in SciFi is trying to relate to another being/society/race with whom there is little common ground for communication.   As this story so deftly illustrates, this often results in misunderstanding and abuse.  Interesting, as Charlie took his trip over the Gaussian curve and back, that when he was at either extreme he had a hard time relating to those in the middle- the mean.  That's not a bad way of looking at it- that Charlie had a hard time relating to the "mean."  And the mean were, in the end, fairly mean.

The other thing that struck me was the utter horror Charlie must have felt knowing that he would lose his mind.  I'm not sure that there is anything more horrifying than possibility of knowing for certain that I will lose my mind.  Thinking that there's nothing I can do about it.  All of the ideas, creativity, memories, and consciousness that I count as "me" will either be forgotten, lost, or become incomprehensible.  While I might remain a sweet, kind and hardworking person, I will not be the me that I want to be.  This brought to mind the tragedy and hardship of what Alzheimer's might mean for those who either have it or those who might live with someone who has it. 

I have to firmly agree with those who are grateful to once again hear this classic.  Thank you.

-HS

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.  Thomas Merton


Unblinking

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Reply #21 on: April 29, 2015, 02:04:08 PM
The other thing that struck me was the utter horror Charlie must have felt knowing that he would lose his mind.  I'm not sure that there is anything more horrifying than possibility of knowing for certain that I will lose my mind.  Thinking that there's nothing I can do about it.  All of the ideas, creativity, memories, and consciousness that I count as "me" will either be forgotten, lost, or become incomprehensible.  While I might remain a sweet, kind and hardworking person, I will not be the me that I want to be.  This brought to mind the tragedy and hardship of what Alzheimer's might mean for those who either have it or those who might live with someone who has it. 

I hear you. Alzheimer's/dementia is probably the thing I'm most scared of, at least among those things that is likely to happen to me.



Chumbawumba

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Reply #22 on: April 30, 2015, 10:14:23 PM
If ever a story needed perfect narration it was this one. That slide up and down needs to be so subtle to be effective.

Step forward Dave Thompson. You've done a man's work, sir!



shanehalbach

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Reply #23 on: May 01, 2015, 03:07:44 PM
Because the episode was long, it took me 3 commutes to finish. And I cried on every. single. one of them.

I haven't read this story since I was a kid, so I forgot how powerful it was. Maybe more powerful now that I have an adult's perspective.

Anyway, what a difficult story to narrate. Coup de grâce by Dave on the reading. Someone remind me of this story next year during the Parsec nominations.


Varda

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Reply #24 on: May 01, 2015, 05:07:12 PM
Because the episode was long, it took me 3 commutes to finish. And I cried on every. single. one of them.

I haven't read this story since I was a kid, so I forgot how powerful it was. Maybe more powerful now that I have an adult's perspective.

Anyway, what a difficult story to narrate. Coup de grâce by Dave on the reading. Someone remind me of this story next year during the Parsec nominations.

FYI, it's eligible for *this* year's Parsecs, if anyone felt like nominating before the period closes. For reasons I cannot explain, the nominations run from May to April instead of a calendar year. So yeah, if you think Dave deserves a nomination, now would be the time to put him forward. :)

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