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Author Topic: EP496: Falling Through Creation  (Read 2805 times)
eytanz
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« on: June 18, 2015, 01:44:36 PM »

EP496: Falling Through Creation

by Mark Robert Philps

Read by Christina Lebonville

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HD 168443 b — Extra-Solar Terrestrial Planet, Silicate Core, Active Plate Tectonics

We drift in warm lighted liquid and dream of a home that we have never known. Below us the dead world hangs in space, its mantle loose and wrinkled like dusty grey skin. We fire probes, watch as they arc towards the planet in long loops of light.

We wonder if this planet is our planet. Will we find some trace of our people here?

The probes have laser cutters and diamond drills and they burrow deep into the planet core. We collect samples from the surface and test them. This had once been a lush world, a garden in a droplet of water, trembling in the void. Now it is dead, the atmosphere a noxious soup, and we can feel only its past in the rocks that remain.

This world is not our home.

We play cards while the probes do their work. You always win. Remember how Father would drift above us–a short man, even for a human, pudgy, bald and smiling, some kind of Buddha in a wetsuit–teaching us how to play? How he would laugh as we pincered the oversized polymer cards between jet-black mandibles. Now the cards are slick with the residue of our feeling for him.

We play for a long time. Days, weeks, months–it is easy to forget that time moves differently for us, faster than it does for Father and the other humans.

They are liars. They use us. You share this once, many times.

They let us leave, I reply They could have killed us.

I don’t remind you that it was because of your anger, your frustration, your rejection of ignorance, that we are out on the edge of the void, alone and separated from Father and the Star-City where he raised us. I don’t care about these things. Besides, you are the mercurial one. The stronger one.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: June 18, 2015, 01:46:25 PM by eytanz » Logged
SpareInch
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« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2015, 06:55:46 AM »

While I was listening, I found this a bit slow for my taste. And not much seemed to happen that I hadn't already worked out ahead of time.

Buuuuuuut...

Then I found myself wondering where these creatures really did come from. I mean, were they really aliens placed into suspended animation as embryos together with conveniently comprehensible instructions for mankind to thaw them out and learn all about their home, but not where it was?

Or were they engineered by humans to range ahead of their factory ship and break up planets ready for exploitation, and given a false history to keep them keen?

 Undecided
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2015, 09:27:00 AM »

I found this story interesting but not very emotionally compelling for some reason I haven't examined very closely.  Worth listening in any case.  I enjoyed the interplay between the attitudes of the two aliens.

Or were they engineered by humans to range ahead of their factory ship and break up planets ready for exploitation, and given a false history to keep them keen?

That's kind of what I was thinking.  Or perhaps they had been there in some kind of ark, meant to preserve a dying civilization perhaps, and the humans are exploiting them.
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Chairman Goodchild
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2015, 05:53:15 AM »

Didn't very much care for this one.  The whole story revolves around a question that the listener not only doesn't get an answer to, but the listener doesn't really even understand the situation at the end of the story.

So, there's an ark in space that's recovered at Europa.  It has alien zygotes inside preserved over 100 million years, so presumably the species is now dead. There almost certainly weren't just two in cryopreservation, and even if there were, at the level of technology presented to the listener, more certainly could be cloned.   So, why did humanity take just two and put them on a Death-Star mining ship and have them scour the universe for their home planet?  Why were the aliens treated like this?  Granted, being able to psychically detect which planets have life is morally useful when a species is strip-mining the galaxy for resources, but why specifically do this to them?  It doesn't seem to make much sense to emotionally torture them like this.  The characters themselves ask these questions, and a world of possibilities is opened up, and then one commits suicide and the story's over.  That's incredibly dissatisfying to me.

Also, holy crap, what kind of resources was humanity in need of that planets were blown up on a routine basis for?  How many planets were blown up in the course of this story?  How is humanity using all of those incredible resources, and why?  That's a mind-boggling question in itself.  If humanity is trying to construct Ringworlds or Dyson Spheres, maybe mention that in the story, because those are the only structures I can think of that would take that amount of resources.  
« Last Edit: June 25, 2015, 02:08:22 AM by Chairman Goodchild » Logged
Zelda
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2015, 01:48:10 AM »

Maybe I'm hardhearted but I found the main character annoyingly needy. I would have liked to know more about the angry sister. The premise of the story puzzled me. If the alien species was so old why did these two human-raised creatures think they would find their home planet and more of their kind? Even if their species still survives, roaming around the universe examining planets at random seems like the worst possible plan for finding them.

Time moves faster for these aliens than it does for humans? What does that mean? I don't understand.

I was troubled by the idea of routinely blowing up planets.

Where would a liquid-dwelling alien being raised by humans in a Star-City learn about spiders? That repulsive image showed up out of nowhere with no explanation.

This story didn't work for me.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2015, 02:59:03 AM »

Add me to the naysayers. The only question I have an answer to is that the oft-mentioned star city is either a ringworld, Dyson sphere or uses some form of fusion to actually travel between systems, and that takes a planet-load of fuel. Of course schlepping that fuel is a problem, but that's just one more unanswered question in a story full of unanswered questions.
Also, to my ear, the reading was a little too mechanical and stilted to allow me to be fully absorbed by the story. I guess that's why I never stopped asking myself "but why?".
To end on a good note, I loved the idea of these creatures who can sense emotions and communicate telepathically being raised by humans. It allows for all sorts of interesting stories by just clashing world views.
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shazdeh
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2015, 10:22:59 PM »

I liked this one, mainly because it had aliens that live in water(?), there seems to be more watery planets or moons than dry-land-and-in-habitable-zone ones, and even our own Earth is more water than earth, so I had this image of aliens travelling in spaceships while they are emerged in water, though had rarely seen this in fiction (one story of Clark comes to mind, from which inhabitants of Venus come to Earth).
The slow reading was also enjoyable, English is not my first language and there's tiny delay in brain when it gets understood, this reading however was slow enough to be easily absorbed. Thank you Christina Lebonville for the read.
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HeartSailor
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2015, 11:46:25 AM »

I'm ambivalent on this one.  My initial reaction was to not like this story- then I asked myself, "Why?"

The first thing that comes to mind is that this does not portray humanity in a favorable light as we head to the stars.  Like the good chair child Chairman Goodchild,  I wondered "So, why did humanity take just two and put them on a Death-Star mining ship and have them scour the universe for their home planet?  Why were the aliens treated like this?"

The answer is that we are who we are (unfortunately) and we have a history of using and abusing those from different cultures.  Why should we act any differently when facing other races?  Humanity's treatment of the aliens on this ship strikes me as reeking of Neo-Colonialism at it's worst.  The aliens are being used simply as a resource, a way to exploit and economically benefit from other worlds (replace "other worlds" with "rubber trees," "sugar cane," "coffee beans..." you get the drift here).   How much despair has humanity wrought upon humanity in the name of "civilizing savages" or increasing the bottom line over the course of our "civilization?"

BTW, the phrase "civilizing savages" has always struck me as coldly humorous, given that many times in our past history the civilizing peoples have been far less cultured and far more brutal than those who have to endure being "civilized."

This also circles back to the common Sci Fi trope "When is a sentient creature a man?" (A sentence which, by it's very structure, is both sexist and specie-ist at the same time).  Apologies in advance to Star Trek, Ender Wiggin and all other literary conceits that feel that humanity will embrace the ideals of open-mindedness, fairness and justice as we travel to the stars.  

News flash- we won't.  There's a reason "happily ever after" is how fairy tales end.  This bleak little vignette is quite believable within this somewhat pessimistic and cynical viewpoint.

I can't say that I enjoyed it greatly, but I get it.  I wish I didn't.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2015, 12:02:56 PM by HeartSailor » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2015, 08:04:28 PM »

I wasn't much of a fan of this one either, unfortunately. It has a cool title, though.
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El Barto
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« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2015, 04:51:14 PM »

Unfortunately, I gave up on this one because I could not get past the narration style.   It sounded to me like it was being read by a speech synthesizer.  A style thing, I guess.
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2017, 05:13:00 PM »

I liked this one, mainly because it had aliens that live in water(?), there seems to be more watery planets or moons than dry-land-and-in-habitable-zone ones, and even our own Earth is more water than earth, so I had this image of aliens travelling in spaceships while they are emerged in water, though had rarely seen this in fiction (one story of Clark comes to mind, from which inhabitants of Venus come to Earth).

Actually, most planets and moons we know of, certainly those in our solar system, are hard surfaced. They may have liquid water or methane below the surface, but often that is more akin to the Earth's mantle (below our hard rock lithosphere) rather than like our oceans. Earth is actually quite unique in it's oceans. The gas giants might be considered comparable to a liquid world, if you are willing to stretch the definition, but it's a big stretch. So, I don't find it very surprising that we don't often see science fiction with alien species who live in liquid.
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acpracht
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« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2017, 02:26:07 PM »

I liked this one, mainly because it had aliens that live in water(?), there seems to be more watery planets or moons than dry-land-and-in-habitable-zone ones, and even our own Earth is more water than earth, so I had this image of aliens travelling in spaceships while they are emerged in water, though had rarely seen this in fiction (one story of Clark comes to mind, from which inhabitants of Venus come to Earth).

Actually, most planets and moons we know of, certainly those in our solar system, are hard surfaced. They may have liquid water or methane below the surface, but often that is more akin to the Earth's mantle (below our hard rock lithosphere) rather than like our oceans. Earth is actually quite unique in it's oceans. The gas giants might be considered comparable to a liquid world, if you are willing to stretch the definition, but it's a big stretch. So, I don't find it very surprising that we don't often see science fiction with alien species who live in liquid.

This said, some of my favorite science fiction stories take place in gaseous or liquid worlds...
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