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Author Topic: EP510: Them Ships  (Read 2338 times)
eytanz
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« on: November 14, 2015, 04:12:54 PM »

EP510: Them Ships

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Read by Dani Cutler

This story originally appeared in the anthology We See a Different Frontier
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Leonardo says that the Americans are going to fire some rockets and free us from the tyranny of the aliens and I say: who gives a shit. Lemme tell you something: It wasn’t super-awesome around here before the aliens. At least we get three meals every day now.

I used to live in a cardboard house with a tin roof and collected garbage for a living. They called my home a ‘lost city’ but they should’ve called it ‘fucked city.’

Leonardo talks about regaining our freedom, ‘bout fighting and shit. What damn freedom? You think I had freedom in the slums? Leonardo can talk freedom out his ass because he had money before this thing started and he saw too many American movies where they kill the monsters with big guns.

I’m not an idiot. The cops used to do their little “operations” in our neighborhood. They’d come in and arrest everyone, take everything. They weren’t Hollywood heroes out to help people. They were fucking assholes and I don’t see why they would have changed. As for American soldiers saving the day: You think they give a rat’s ass ‘bout Mexico City? You think they’re going to fly here in their helicopters and save us?

I say fuck that shit. I never had no freedom. Leonardo can go piss himself.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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SpareInch
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2015, 03:11:14 AM »

You know, I really liked the fluency of the swearing in this. Not that I advocate lots of bad language in fiction, but this time, it worked.

I also liked the comparison between two people who were in identical circumstances, but one had been reduced to those circumstances, while the other had been raised to them, producing very different views of their shared situation. It's the whole Redistribution of Wealth argument in a nutshell.
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EFBQ
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2015, 12:55:46 PM »

I liked that we never see what the aliens end game is.  We have no way of gauging whether they're benign or malignant or just totally alien.  Given that there's no way to tell if Leonardo, who takes the traditional role of the hero, is heroic or foolish or actually destructive.

It's also interesting to hear from the point of view of the collaborator.  Like her, I'm not sure if she's brave, but I'm pretty sure she's not cowardly.  Very nicely done.
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BoojumsRCool
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2015, 06:01:17 PM »

If I had not listened to more than the first few sentences I more than likely would not have continued, I admit to doing that every once and a while. I thought that though she is very good her  voice didn't match what was being expressed. Lucky for me I did keep listening. The more I listened to the story the more I realized that context and perspective were the whole point. Thanks for a great story and reminding me of the importance of patience.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2015, 10:36:04 AM »

I really enjoyed this one.  It took a familiar trope of the alien overlords and turned it into something new.  The hero of all those other stories is Leonardo, and he probably dies here having accomplished nothing (after ditching her, which is presumably something that would've been left out of those stories when he was in the starring role, the victor defines the tale etc).

I totally got her point of view, and I thought the swearing was used effectively--it didn't feel forced or that it was just thrown in there for color, it felt like it was just a usual part of her language and she uses it without examining it to any great degree. 

Like SpareInch said, the really interesting part of it is due to the perspective of being reduced to these circumstances or raised to them.  She has struggled to find food and shelter, and the concept of just having these things without struggling is a utopia when that's been a daily struggle, to her this has been like a door to Wonderland and she is quite happy to play a part in continuing.  I'm a little surprised that she gave him the information he needed, since that is working against the aliens, but my interpretation of it was that she knew that he was incapable of wreaking any real havoc and so rather than let him continue to plot so nearby here and endanger her circumstances, she gave him what he thought was what he wanted but which doomed him instead. 

Was she a likeable person?  I think so.  One could argue that she murdered him with her actions, but to me it felt more like (from her point of view) that he was intent on charging into his own death and she is a pragmatic enough person that she allowed him to do that.  Maybe she'll regret her involvement in his death, but I don't think it was necessarily a morally reprehensible act to allow a suicidally resistant person to go resist suicidally somewhere else.  She told him more than once that she was comfortable with the current situation and he kept approaching her. I can see why he did that, with the Stockholm Syndrome point of view, but by continuing to try to involve her he was endangering her placement in this new world and if he had been as pragmatic as her he would've understood the danger in continuing to try to draw her in when she said she didn't want to (especially if he's gonna go and ditch her when he makes a run for it anyway).


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Maxilu
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2015, 12:30:13 PM »

I really liked this. The swearing was well done, and worked to flesh out the narrator as a person. I think the narrator would have been able to tell an interesting story even in more normal times. She is shown throughout that she does whatever it takes to survive. It's an interesting contrast to Leonardo, who's pulled from his comfortable middle-class lifestyle, and while he thinks he can be a hero, really can't cope. Leonardo is better educated, but more naive, while the narrator is smarter and more pragmatic--and arguably hasn't been contaminated by movies and TV shows where a plucky band of heros bring down the alien menace.

I get the feeling that the narrator could do some real damage to the aliens if she wanted to, but her lot in life has drastically improved, and she sees no reason to.

All in all, this story is very well done
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Dwango
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« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2015, 02:55:14 PM »

I think the protagonist was rather a sociopath, as she didn't care what had happened to her father or sisters, and she lets Leonardo die for leaving when she might have intervened.  The story makes it clear she is a product of her extreme poverty, a person who has is so much better with the aliens.  That the aliens let her have a word on Leonardo's fate appears to be a kind of test to see if she is loyal.

Leonardo was a arrogant snot, but he tried to relate with the protagonist.  I don't think he wanted to let her behind, as he kept trying to ask her how she felt about the aliens.  In the end she made it clear that she liked what the aliens were doing and Leonardo and his companions couldn't really trust her.  Do you really think she would have gone with them, or would have told the aliens of the plot.

I completely get the point of the story, and it is poignant.   How many disaffected people are out there, who are so miserable in their condition and would do anything to change their situation.
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TrishEM
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« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2015, 12:53:43 PM »

I really like the flipped mindset in this story, getting to understand the collaborator's side, and the clear illustration of how privilege and the lack of it affect the characters' perspectives.

I don't understand why the protagonist was mad that Leonardo "ditched" her when she had made it clear to him multiple times that she wasn't interested in his revolt. Really, he would have been foolish to give her any details of their escape plot.
However, I doubt the aliens will just kill him -- why drag him back in chains if so? Just to test her? Certainly sinister, but I'd bank on "re-education" (torture/breaking) for him instead.

I think it's right that we never find out the aliens' true motivation -- making earthlings into good slaves, or genuine uplift for us, from their patronizing point of view? But the protagonist has no way to know, so neither do we.

I don't think of her as a sociopath for not caring about her parents' fate, since we don't know how the parents treated her. She does feel a little regret and concern for her sisters, but not enough to do anything about it; I would certainly try to find my relatives, but I haven't been beaten down by life the way she has.

I think she's deluding herself about the music, though; she says it completes her, but it seems she's using it as an opiate or distraction from reality instead.

I didn't really notice the swearing, so either it worked seamlessly with the character or I'm dead to all proper feeling (I work in a newsroom, so the latter is at least as likely). I think maybe the fact that it's audio also lets it slide by easier for me than if I read it, because I'm used to ignoring it in movies, etc.
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wintermute
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« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2015, 02:41:20 PM »

I think the protagonist was rather a sociopath, as she didn't care what had happened to her father or sisters
Or possibly her relationship with them was abusive, and she is justifiably glad that they are no longer in her life.
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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2015, 06:39:47 AM »

I fall in the "not a sociopath" camp. The whole point in shifting the point of view is to put yourself in the shoes of another person, and see things her way. Sure, you have to allow for the possibility that she is an unreliable narrator, but in this story, this character did not come off as having a reason to be unreliable.

I did want to compliment Dani's reading of this. It's tough to have a story written with such a distinct Hispanic voice and not sound like you're "doing the accent." It could have been distracting, at best, if she had veered into that kind of reading. Instead, she somehow captured the inflections and rhythms written into the text without overbalancing into parody, and I was very comfortable with that.

As for Leonardo, I'll just point out that Zapp Brannigan* thinks he's the suave romantic lead of his own story, and he is not.

* http://futurama.wikia.com/wiki/Zapp_Brannigan
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Devoted135
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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2015, 10:03:17 PM »

I appreciate this story for helping me get inside the head of a collaborator. I tend not to have any sympathy for people who help the oppressors in these stories, so this was an interesting new perspective. With no real motivation or power to try and restore the former world, why not go ahead and make the best she can for herself in this new world? For once I can she where someone like her is coming from.
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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2015, 08:28:17 PM »

I appreciate this story for helping me get inside the head of a collaborator. I tend not to have any sympathy for people who help the oppressors in these stories, so this was an interesting new perspective. With no real motivation or power to try and restore the former world, why not go ahead and make the best she can for herself in this new world? For once I can she where someone like her is coming from.

Oppressor is in the eye of the beholder, non? If the "Oppressors" are treating her better than the "heroes" ever did, then how fair is it to call her a collaborator?
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Devoted135
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« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2015, 09:59:52 PM »

I appreciate this story for helping me get inside the head of a collaborator. I tend not to have any sympathy for people who help the oppressors in these stories, so this was an interesting new perspective. With no real motivation or power to try and restore the former world, why not go ahead and make the best she can for herself in this new world? For once I can she where someone like her is coming from.

Oppressor is in the eye of the beholder, non? If the "Oppressors" are treating her better than the "heroes" ever did, then how fair is it to call her a collaborator?

Yes, oppressor is certainly in the eye of the beholder. I don't think we know enough about the world to make an unbiased judgment call as to whether things have improved or not after the aliens got there. However, I'm definitely biased to assume that alien overlords would probably mean an overall decline in freedom/happiness/etc. I mean that globally, clearly there are people who benefit from every situation. It may be that the alien overlords are actually helping humanity, in which case calling her a collaborator would be a misnomer; she'd be a diplomat or ambassador or something. I just have this feeling that humanity has not benefited on a global scale, so she's an extremely sympathetic collaborator. Like I said above, more power to her making the best of the situation she's in.
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adrianh
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« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2015, 08:47:59 AM »

1) I really enjoyed this. For all the reasons others have given.

2) I didn't notice the swearing as being especially bad. I wonder what it says about me ;–)
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Fenrix
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« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2015, 02:43:09 PM »


I don't understand why the protagonist was mad that Leonardo "ditched" her when she had made it clear to him multiple times that she wasn't interested in his revolt. Really, he would have been foolish to give her any details of their escape plot.
However, I doubt the aliens will just kill him -- why drag him back in chains if so? Just to test her? Certainly sinister, but I'd bank on "re-education" (torture/breaking) for him instead.


I found this the most intensely human moment in the story. She was annoyed at Leonardo trying to include her in his plans while also being angry at being excluded. This contradiction is inherent in humanity. I know a...friend...just like this.
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albionmoonlight
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« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2015, 03:23:51 PM »

This reminded me of The People Of the Shell.

When the alien invaders come and upset the social order, the people who were on the top of the old order will fight to the death to get it back, justifying it as the natural human right.  The people on the bottom of the old order might have a very different view of the invaders.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2015, 10:20:39 AM »

This reminded me of The People Of the Shell.

When the alien invaders come and upset the social order, the people who were on the top of the old order will fight to the death to get it back, justifying it as the natural human right.  The people on the bottom of the old order might have a very different view of the invaders.

Yes!  I was trying to think of where that dynamic reminded me of, and I think that was it.
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Leslianne
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« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2016, 04:27:35 PM »

Loved this! The Malinche story fits so naturally into a science fiction context that now that I think about it, I'm surprised I'd never seen this done before. Really lovely.
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nospammers
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« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2016, 01:54:32 PM »

In general, I look down on profanity in writing. In the vast majority of cases it serves no purpose other than to indicate the author's lack of depth in English. In this case, however, I found it surprisingly unobjectionable. After further thought, I decided that it was a rather integral part of painting the image of the narrator.

I very much enjoyed this story on multiple levels. I just hope it doesn't convince other authors that they need to throw in gratuitous profanity.
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2017, 09:02:10 AM »

I absolutely loved this story!! From the moment I realized it was being told from the point of view of someone who's circumstances were improved by an alien invasion, I was hooked. Then I kept waiting to be disappointed, but I wasn't! (Does that mean I actually was disappointed?  Wink ). Awesome perspective, especially with the juxtaposition of someone who's lot in life was made worse. Very well and clearly told. All round, big win!!
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