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Author Topic: PseudoPod 459: Flash On The Borderlands XXVII: What’s The Matter With Kids Today  (Read 3536 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: October 09, 2015, 11:17:16 PM »

PseudoPod 459: Flash On The Borderlands XXVII: What’s The Matter With Kids Today?

“Practially every one of the top 40 records being played on every radio station in the United States is a communication to the children to take a trip, to cop out, to groove. The psychedelic jackets on the record albums have their own hidden symbols and messages as well as the lyrics to all the top rock songs and they all sing the same refrain: its fun to take a trip, put acid in your veins.”

Art Linkletter



Mother” by Lynette Mejia

This story is a PseudoPod Original.

Lynette Mejía writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror prose and poetry from the middle of a deep, dark forest in the wilds of southern Louisiana. You can find her online at www.lynettemejia.com .

Your reader – Setsu Uzume spent her formative years in and out of dojos. She also trained in a monastery in rural China, studying Daoism and swordplay. She is a member of Codex and SFWA. While she has dabbled in many arts, only writing and martial arts seem to have stuck. You can find her on the web at katanapen.wordpress.com, and on Twitter @KatanaPen.

Lucinda sniffed the air, wrinkling her nose. Another smoker, she thought, though the sign on the door was as clear as could be: a circle with a burning cigarette in its center, bisected by a thick, black line. The smell was faintly industrial, like burning chemicals. Annoying.

She lugged the heavy commercial vacuum cleaner into the room, plugging it into the nearest wall outlet and dragging it back and forth across the floor in a series of ever-widening, slightly overlapping strokes. As it slid beneath the bed, however, the ancient machine coughed and heaved, gasping like an end-stage emphysema patient. Turning it off with a sigh, Lucinda dropped to her knees and lifted the scratchy, floral coverlet hanging nearly to the floor.




Darwinism” by Rachel Verkade

“Darwinism” was originally published in issue 19 of 69 Flavors of Paranoia. “I never had a gender in mind for either the narrator or the listener. Does it change the story a great deal if the narrator in particular is male or female?”

Rachel is a Canadian writer whose background is in wildlife biology. Previously she’s been published in The Escapist, The Future Fire, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, Under the Bed, The New Accelerator, Romance Magazine, 365 Tomorrows, and On the Premises. Currently she lives in England with 3 cats, a parrot, and a husband. She works as a writer and editor for the website Nerds Raging under the pseudonym “Here be Dragons” or “The Drunken Dragon Lady”. She’s working on an ongoing comedic review of the works of John Everson, titled “Rape-Rape, the Rapening”

Your reader – Andrea Subissati is the co-host of the Faculty of Horror podcast, a monthly show examining the academic side of horror movies. The Faculty of Horror can be found at http://www.facultyofhorror.com, as well as on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TheFacultyOfHorror) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/FacultyofHorror).

Come here a moment. I want to talk to you about evolution.

Don’t be shy. It’s not that scary a subject, no matter what your local priest might tell you. It’s really very simple. The idea is that some creatures are born with “mutations”; new features that can be detrimental or advantageous to the animal. Say, for example, that at one time an antelope gives birth to a calf that has a slightly longer neck than its fellows. And because that calf has a longer neck, it is able to reach leaves that are higher in the trees. These leaves are more succulent, richer, and it does not have to fight with its herdmates to reach them. And so this animal has an easier time finding food, and thus becomes stronger and is better equipped to breed with the females. This long neck is passed on to its progeny, and each of them can reach these higher leaves as well, and so they too are better able to survive and breed. And so eventually a longer-necked male breeds with a longer-necked female, and their calf has a longer neck still, and an even greater advantage. This continues and continues through the generations, and millions of years later, you and I marvel over the beauty of Giraffa camelopardis, the African giraffe.




The Last Bombardment” by Ken Schneyer

This story is a PseudoPod Original. “In 2013, I participated in Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s annual “Art and Words Show”, in which writers base new stories on works of visual art, and visual artists base new works on stories and poems. Bonnie gave me an arresting drawing by Kris Goto which showed an infant suspended by red balloons whose strings threaded through its head. This story was the result.”

In 2014 Ken was nominated for the Nebula Award, and was a finalist for the Sturgeon Memorial Award, for his story ‘Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer,’ which appeared on our sister podcast Podcastle. His first collection, The Law & the Heart, was released by Stillpoint Digital Press last year, and his stories also appear in Analog, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clockwork Phoenix 3 & 4, Daily Science Fiction, and elsewhere. With the present story, Ken has now achieved is longtime goal of having works on all three of the Escape Artists podcasts. Ken teaches business law and science fiction literature in Rhode Island. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Livejournal.

Your Reader: Big Anklevich is a co-host at the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine. At Dunesteef.com, he and Rish Outfield have been bringing you full cast audio fiction for a full seven years now. Head over and check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Nobody noticed the first bombardment, not when it happened. It came at night without a sound. That was early in the war, and we were miles from the front; no one was watching for anything.

One morning we woke up, brewed our cups of coffee (there was coffee then), poured the cream, and took a sip while it was still hot, and went out to search the bushes and ravine for badly thrown newspapers. For most of us, that was all that happened. But a few, maybe fifty or sixty, found toddlers on our doorsteps.





Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 12:50:28 PM by Bdoomed » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2015, 06:35:25 PM »

I am always amused by people (such as the narrator in Darwinism) who think that human society is entirely made up of aeroplanes and expensive restaurants. I can only wonder how they would react to being told that humans actually continue to live in jungles, and even have children who manage not to get eaten by predators. One could easily imagine studying how much noise children make in that environment, and how the parents deal with that; you could even go a step further and study babies born to Western European parents and raised by inhabitants of a jungle, and vice versa. I'm sure that would be far more enlightening than an "experiment" to see if predators who can only hunt by sound will respond to noise...

I guess that's the real horror; the complete pointlessness of the baby-sacrifice.
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Lisa3737
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« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2015, 09:00:12 PM »

"The Last Bombardment" was an excellent story with excellent narration.
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Chicken Ghost
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2015, 04:57:18 PM »

I am always amused by people (such as the narrator in Darwinism) who think that human society is entirely made up of aeroplanes and expensive restaurants. I can only wonder how they would react to being told that humans actually continue to live in jungles, and even have children who manage not to get eaten by predators. One could easily imagine studying how much noise children make in that environment, and how the parents deal with that; you could even go a step further and study babies born to Western European parents and raised by inhabitants of a jungle, and vice versa. I'm sure that would be far more enlightening than an "experiment" to see if predators who can only hunt by sound will respond to noise...

I guess that's the real horror; the complete pointlessness of the baby-sacrifice.

There's also the fact that humans have been making their own environment, from the perspective of infant-defense, for at least tens of thousands, and probably hundreds of thousands of years.  Crying is an adaptation to that protected environment that comes from mommy and daddy being on the top of every food chain.

Evolution is only horrifying in the non-cosmic sense when it is misunderstood. 
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Dwango
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« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2015, 03:00:34 PM »

It always irks me when evolution is misrepresented as a way to create improved beings.  It is a process to fill niches presented by environments.  Living creatures evolve to best fill a niche and to use the advantages provided by it.  What best fills one niche, does not necessarily fill the next niche.  I.E. the cheetah who is best designed to chase fast prey across the plains, but cannot protect that meal, due to its evolutionary specialization, from bigger, slower creatures.  It's this misrepresentation of science that creates the horror in the story, where some insane person uses malformed scientific theory to justify brutality.
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« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2015, 05:36:11 PM »

Yeah, that was another point. When they said "Human babies wouldn't survive in their ancestral environment" my first thought was "yeah, but they do" (as detailed above), and my second was "And dolphins wouldn't survive on the plains where their ungulate ancestors roamed, either".
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« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2015, 09:44:23 PM »

It always irks me when evolution is misrepresented as a way to create improved beings.  It is a process to fill niches presented by environments.  Living creatures evolve to best fill a niche and to use the advantages provided by it.  What best fills one niche, does not necessarily fill the next niche.  I.E. the cheetah who is best designed to chase fast prey across the plains, but cannot protect that meal, due to its evolutionary specialization, from bigger, slower creatures.  It's this misrepresentation of science that creates the horror in the story, where some insane person uses malformed scientific theory to justify brutality.

Came here to say basically this. I was really getting into Darwinism until it took the bad science turn.

I loved The Last Bombardment as someone who has never felt the parental urge the concept of a baby turning up and needing me to care for it is scary to start with, add in the decisions this story implied and I'm terrified.  Potentially a heavy and disturbing topic, dealt with with a deft hand.
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wintermute
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« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2015, 09:50:26 AM »

Came here to say basically this. I was really getting into Darwinism until it took the bad science turn.
I think it's fair to say that the author is not endorsing the bad science; I mean the horror is that the main character is performing terrible "experiments" based on a complete ignorance of evolution, biology and the scientific method.
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Moritz
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« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2015, 02:39:07 PM »

1. I really liked Mother, some nice imagery there. Not much to comment.
2. Yeah, the bad science of Darwinism really annoyed me (and I had my last biology classes in high school). The way the story made you an accomplice to the deed therefore didn't hit me as much as the method could in a different setting.
3. To be honest I thought the scenario in The Last Bombardment was just silly.

I really like it though when Pseudopod puts together flash fiction with a theme.
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« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2015, 10:45:08 AM »

Mother
This one was suitably creepy, between the cramped obsessive note and the final note of the scratching on the window to close the loop.

Darwinism
This one drove me nuts.  Even apart from the on-spot points others have made, even if this made some kind of sense in regard to evolutionary theory, the experiment makes no scientific sense whatsoever.  There's no control group.  A single datapoint doesn't prove much of anything.  And the situation is so ridiculously artificial so as to not mirror anything one would actually find in nature.  Unless one usually comes across starving predators who are able-bodied except for the deprivation of smell and sight who are inside a building with two paths and where an infant is left with no parents around it.  Yup, that totally happens all the time.  

I would find it less annoying if the theory of evolution already weren't misunderstood almost as often as it's understood,  It's a compelling idea, but at a glance many people get the wrong idea and just run with it.  So I might, say, be less bothered if someone misused some other scientific theory than this one because this one is misused all the time.

I think that wintermute is correct in that the story is probably not meant to endorse that this story is based on any actual concept of real science or real understanding of evolutionary theory.  But without that basis, to me the scientific discussion was entirely irrelevant and then it was just a psychotic person torturing other beings for no reason at all, which I find less compelling.  

The Last Bombardment

Damn this was effective.  I can't think of any way to fight that kind of attack without being destroyed by it one way or the other, either through literal death or by killing empathy.  That is a BRUTAL weapon to make one choose between killing something that's indistinguishable from a toddler and letting its plague spread.  I think that they made the only choice they could make for survival, but at the same time nothing could ever be the same after that.  And even if it's the best strategy, I still also feel bad for the toddlers who it seemed to me seemed to think they were just regular toddlers, and so it's hard not to empathize with them even if they were engineered as plague vectors--they may not have been aware of that at all.  

Damn.




« Last Edit: October 28, 2015, 09:23:33 AM by Unblinking » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2015, 11:14:46 PM »

Darwinism
This one drove me nuts...

I was going to post, but you basically captured all my feelings.
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2015, 04:39:29 AM »

Darwinism
This one drove me nuts...

I was going to post, but you basically captured all my feelings.

I just want to say a few things.  Darwinism was well written and well read.  According to the show notes, the author has a background in wildlife biology, so I am sure that the she knows evolutionary theory, but the story also managed to hit a nerve with me.  Misunderstanding of evolution is a pet peeve of mine, and because occurs so often, the story made me want to argue with it the whole time.  Plus I have been to Dachau and Buchenwald and seen the real horrors (including human experimentation) that eugenics can cause.
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2015, 04:52:00 AM »

the experiment makes no scientific sense whatsoever.

It has an n of 1 and a p-value of 0.5. There's no way any scientist would take any notice of its conclusions, even without the ethical considerations.
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« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2015, 05:16:30 AM »

the experiment makes no scientific sense whatsoever.

It has an n of 1 and a p-value of 0.5. There's no way any scientist would take any notice of its conclusions, even without the ethical considerations.

Did you just do a student's ttest on a n of 1 to get that p-value? Cheesy Cheesy 

Plus I love how everyone here is like.  Huh, dude, that's a bad experiment.  You need more cats and more babies, and you need to repeat it.

/facepalm
« Last Edit: October 27, 2015, 08:11:03 AM by Not-a-Robot » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2015, 09:34:44 AM »

Did you just do a student's ttest on a n of 1 to get that p-value? Cheesy Cheesy  

Plus I love how everyone here is like.  Huh, dude, that's a bad experiment.  You need more cats and more babies, and you need to repeat it.

/facepalm

From the facepalm I'm guessing that your love for the reaction is sarcastic?  

I personally love the reaction here.  Which is obviously a very different reaction than I'd have in real life if I came across this experiment, where my order of priorities would be:
1.  Save the babies!
2.  Feed the dog something that is not made of babies.
3.  Try to deal with this crazy person however possible.
4.  Find the parents of the babies or some kind of foster care.
5.  Find a foster home willing to take a horribly maimed dog (or adopt it myself).
6.  Examine how this experiment is shit, scientifically speaking.

No one is claiming the experiment is ethical.  But, I think that's a given and so there's no point of contention there to pick apart.  It's a horror podcast so a lack of ethics is kind of not that unusual.  

But when the entire story is constructed as a supposedly scientific explanation, and this story is presented to a bunch of nerds like myself many of us who are either scientists or science enthusiasts, it's really not surpising that the reaction boils down to:



Present me with a story about a scientifically plausible but horrifically unethical experiment based on some kind of interesting premise and I will eat that up (even though I wouldn't advocate actually carrying out such an unethical experiment).  Smiley

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« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2015, 09:46:41 AM »


No one is claiming the experiment is ethical.  But, I think that's a given and so there's no point of contention there to pick apart.  It's a horror podcast so a lack of ethics is kind of not that unusual.  


I think that you misread my reaction.  The /facepalm was sarcastic.  Next time I should make it more clear.

I meant that it was good gallows humor, that's all.  Grin Grin
« Last Edit: October 28, 2015, 09:48:44 AM by Not-a-Robot » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2015, 11:19:12 AM »


No one is claiming the experiment is ethical.  But, I think that's a given and so there's no point of contention there to pick apart.  It's a horror podcast so a lack of ethics is kind of not that unusual.  


I think that you misread my reaction.  The /facepalm was sarcastic.  Next time I should make it more clear.

I meant that it was good gallows humor, that's all.  Grin Grin

Okie doke.  Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2015, 08:38:59 AM »

One of the things that makes Darwinism work so well is how much we are shown of the narrator through asides an off-hand comments. This is someone who has read The Marching Morons and Pump 6 a few too many times and has made it their life goal to reverse the trend. Their thoughts are a barely controlled simmering rage that are internally consistent yet subtly contradictory.

The fact that this character is wildly unreliable, yet the focus in the thread has accepted them and has moved to argue with the ideas presented. There are a couple accusations of insanity, but it comes after science discussion. The toxic thinking of this person is built layer upon layer and is the sort of thing that allows individuals to be weaponized. Shift the annoyance of the narrator from the sound of crying babies to skin color and the self-reinforced hate remains plausible.
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« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2015, 10:12:58 AM »

The fact that this character is wildly unreliable, yet the focus in the thread has accepted them and has moved to argue with the ideas presented.

Sure.  I thought it was clear they were unreliable, clear enough that it's not a point of contention.

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« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2015, 03:03:24 PM »

This was an excellent addition to the Borderlands series! I really enjoyed all the stories, with "The Last Bombardment" being by far my favorite. It was a chilling story that was so far-out and surreal yet almost believable. The imagery of cute little toddlers floating down from the sky tied to big red balloons with arms outstretched looking for hugs before being blown out of the sky with a hunting rifle is something that will stick with me for a long while  Grin
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« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2015, 11:18:35 AM »

Came here to say basically this. I was really getting into Darwinism until it took the bad science turn.
I think it's fair to say that the author is not endorsing the bad science; I mean the horror is that the main character is performing terrible "experiments" based on a complete ignorance of evolution, biology and the scientific method.

This.
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« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2015, 03:08:45 PM »

Sorry, never intended to say the author was endorsing the science, as I thought he did it on purpose.  Throughout history, people have taken science an run off with half assed understanding in unintentional directions.  From entropy being over construed to end of the earth theories to the internet being a series of tubes, popular culture has regularly abused scientific theory to push political and personal agendas.  This story is that creepy borderland of how far you can twist a theory to your own evil purposes, which gives me the shivers.
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2017, 11:20:29 PM »

Yes, first time posters aren't allowed to post links (anti-spam)
Here's the link though! http://www.fringefestival.org/2017/show/?id=20171227

I would totally go to this if I were in the area. I'd love to see this in a play!
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« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2017, 11:35:45 PM »

Thanks, Brian! Reposting to include that link.

Wanted to alert Pseudopod fans in the American Midwest that the story The Last Bombardment from Pseudopod episode #459 has been developed into horror theater, performing at the Minnesota Fringe Festival August 3-13. We'd love to see you there.

http://www.fringefestival.org/2017/show/?id=20171227
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 09:24:19 AM by oncomingtrain » Logged
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