Escape Artists

News:

News

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

Author Topic: PC379: The Truth About Owls  (Read 4453 times)

Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
on: September 02, 2015, 04:35:27 PM
PodCastle 379: The Truth About Owls

by Amal El-Mohtar

read by Amal El-Mohtar

First published in Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories (Twelfth Planet Press, 2014), edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein. Winner of the 2015 Locus Award for Best Short Story.  Reprinted in Strange Horizons (January 2015) and Jonathan Strahan’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year vol. 9 (May 2015). Read it here!

Owls have eyes that match the skies they hunt through. Amber-eyed owls hunt at dawn or dusk; golden-eyed owls hunt during the day; black-eyed owls hunt at night.

No one knows why this is.

Anisa’s eyes are black, and she no longer hates them. She used to wish for eyes the color of her father’s, the beautiful pale green-blue that people were always startled to see in a brown face. But she likes, now, having eyes and hair of a color those same people find frightening.


Rated PG.

Amal El-Mohtar is the Nebula-nominated author of The Honey Month, a collection of very short fiction and poetry written to the taste of 28 different kinds of honey. Her work has recently appeared in Uncanny magazine and in Lightspeed magazine’s Queers Destroy Science Fiction special issue. She’s 1/4 of DOWN AND SAFE, a new podcast discussing iconic British science fiction program Blake’s 7, along with Scott Lynch, Liz Myles, and Michael D. Thomas. She also reviews books for NPR, Tor.com, and Lightspeed, edits Goblin Fruit, and presently divides her time and heart between Ottawa and Glasgow. Find out more at http://amalelmohtar.com, or follow her antics on Twitter @tithenai.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!



bounceswoosh

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 305
Reply #1 on: September 07, 2015, 05:30:31 AM
Someone please translate what she writes in the journal into English!



Not-a-Robot

  • Guest
Reply #2 on: September 07, 2015, 01:02:50 PM
I enjoyed the story.

I am not a bird.  I have as many feathers as I have gears, and I am definitely not a robot.  I am also not a bird-lover, but I do have an affinity for the weird, and anyone who has observed the mating dance of the bird of paradise or the Japanese crane knows that birds are weird.

Our host this week made a comment about the intelligence of the avian among us, who are, unfortunately unable to speak for themselves.  So, like the Lorax, who speaks for the trees, and Ender Wiggin, who speaks for the dead, I will speak for the birds.

But, lo, can they not speak for themselves?  In the ancient days of yore, when Poe had his reputation to restore, was it not a raven who quoth: "Nevermore"?  Was it not Capitan Flint, the Parrot, who out foxed Jim Hawkins in the blockhouse of Skull Island with his heralded battle cry of "Pieces of Eight!" when Long John Silver was powerless against Jim's boyish spunk?

And as for intelligence, why, according to 'Tools and brains in birds' published in 2002, there are over 39 species of birds that can use tools.  That is 38 more tool-using species of birds than there are species of Homo sapiens altogether.  In fact, one study performed by scientists and published that particularly anti-avian crown of people known as editors, shows that the common rook can not only use tools, but manufacture tools and use metatools.  Now, 'metatool' may sound like a word manufactured by humans to appear more intelligent than birds, but it's not.  It simply means, using a tool to get another tool.  According to the study (Insightful problem solving and creative tool modification by captive nontool-using rooks, PNAS 2009), rooks used stones to displace water to retrieve a meal worm.  They also used a hook to pull a bucket out of water to retrieve a meal, and when provided with a straight wire, they made hooks, three out for four birds manufacturing a proper hook on the first attempt.

So, look on the works of birds, ye Mighty, and despair! and underestimate not their intelligence, lest they make a birdbrain out of you.   ;D
« Last Edit: September 07, 2015, 01:16:25 PM by Not-a-Robot »



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #3 on: September 09, 2015, 03:08:46 PM
I enjoyed the story.

I am not a bird.  I have as many feathers as I have gears, and I am definitely not a robot.  I am also not a bird-lover, but I do have an affinity for the weird, and anyone who has observed the mating dance of the bird of paradise or the Japanese crane knows that birds are weird.

Our host this week made a comment about the intelligence of the avian among us, who are, unfortunately unable to speak for themselves.  So, like the Lorax, who speaks for the trees, and Ender Wiggin, who speaks for the dead, I will speak for the birds.

But, lo, can they not speak for themselves?  In the ancient days of yore, when Poe had his reputation to restore, was it not a raven who quoth: "Nevermore"?  Was it not Capitan Flint, the Parrot, who out foxed Jim Hawkins in the blockhouse of Skull Island with his heralded battle cry of "Pieces of Eight!" when Long John Silver was powerless against Jim's boyish spunk?

And as for intelligence, why, according to 'Tools and brains in birds' published in 2002, there are over 39 species of birds that can use tools.  That is 38 more tool-using species of birds than there are species of Homo sapiens altogether.  In fact, one study performed by scientists and published that particularly anti-avian crown of people known as editors, shows that the common rook can not only use tools, but manufacture tools and use metatools.  Now, 'metatool' may sound like a word manufactured by humans to appear more intelligent than birds, but it's not.  It simply means, using a tool to get another tool.  According to the study (Insightful problem solving and creative tool modification by captive nontool-using rooks, PNAS 2009), rooks used stones to displace water to retrieve a meal worm.  They also used a hook to pull a bucket out of water to retrieve a meal, and when provided with a straight wire, they made hooks, three out for four birds manufacturing a proper hook on the first attempt.

So, look on the works of birds, ye Mighty, and despair! and underestimate not their intelligence, lest they make a birdbrain out of you.   ;D

I enjoyed this comment as much as I enjoyed the story (and I enjoyed the story).   ;D



amalmohtar

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 34
    • Voices on the Midnight Air
Reply #4 on: September 09, 2015, 03:09:51 PM
Quick note for the curious -- the translation of the story's last words can be found here: http://strangehorizons.com/2015/20150126/2owlsintro-f.shtml




Not-a-Robot

  • Guest
Reply #5 on: September 09, 2015, 06:07:59 PM
Thanks for stopping by Amal, and thanks for the translation.

And thanks for the great story.



bounceswoosh

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 305
Reply #6 on: September 09, 2015, 08:27:24 PM
Quick note for the curious -- the translation of the story's last words can be found here: http://strangehorizons.com/2015/20150126/2owlsintro-f.shtml
Thank you!



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #7 on: September 15, 2015, 04:45:34 PM
This story was really interesting for me, and kind of challenging. For me, the myth of Gwydion (which includes the character Blodeuwedd) is one of those stories that really shaped and comforted me during some difficult times in my childhood... except that the character I identified with was Lleu Llaw Gyffes, who was cursed by his mother. Blodeuwedd was supposed to be part of the cure, but instead she betrayed him. Weirdly enough, I found this distracting. It pushed me away from the story and gave the main character a sinister air.

Nevertheless, it was an absolutely beautiful story. Just not really for me, I suppose.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

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


Devoted135

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1252
Reply #8 on: September 28, 2015, 02:12:43 AM
I loved this story and how it used the interweaving of cultures to explore her experience. I also agree with our neighborhood Robot above: many birds are very intelligent!



Ariadnes-thread

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 32
Reply #9 on: October 14, 2015, 09:38:13 PM
I'd heard this story before, on the Strange Horizons podcast, and I already loved it that time. But hearing Amal read it herself made it even better; this was really a treat to listen to!