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Author Topic: EP519: Artemis Rising – In Their Image  (Read 4633 times)
eytanz
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« on: February 04, 2016, 05:28:09 PM »

EP519: Artemis Rising – In Their Image

By Abra Staffin-Wiebe

read by Diane Severson

with guest host Mur Lafferty

---

When I stepped off the shuttle and breathed in the dry grass scent of Trade City, I was still confident I could launch the first human church on Landry’s World. My fellow passengers had been politely non-interested when I explained the mission my church had sent me on. A few had shaken their heads as they glided away. I thought maybe they objected to a female preacher. Or maybe it was because I’m an ex-marine. I’m an “ex-” a lot of things: ex-marine, ex-atheist, ex-drunk, ex-wife, and ex-mother–that last because I was a poor enough mother that when my kids grew up, they washed their hands of me.

The heavier gravity made my normal stride more of a shuffle, but my spirits were high as I walked to meet the young woman waiting for me. After all, I was here at the request of Amber Sands Mining, the major human employer on the planet. The indigenous government had approved; they even volunteered the labor to build my church. My denomination’s elders were delighted to have finally found a mission suitable for an ex-marine with other-world experience.

My guide held a sign saying, “Preacher.” She bestowed a chipper smile on me when I approached. “Welcome to Landry’s World! I’ll take you directly to the church so that you can get started.”

As I fell into step beside her, I said, “It seems odd that a planet with indigenous life is named after the captain who discovered it. Discovered isn’t quite the right term, either, is it?”

“Landry’s purpose in life was to find and name this world, and the Teddies honor that.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Teddies?”

“Oh, dear. I hope you didn’t memorize their long-form name! You don’t need to worry about that. We need to say that in the welcome packet.”

I remembered the images that had come with my briefing. The locals of Landry’s World were seven feet tall, ursine, and covered in bright pink fur. “Wait. You’re telling me that this place is populated by pink teddy bears?” I asked incredulously.

She grinned. “Yup. Here’s the road. Watch your step. I thought we could walk instead of taking the transit tube.”

The golden sand between the borders of the road appeared identical to the sand that stretched into the distance on either side. “What’s the difference?”

“Everything in its place.”

“And what’s your place? When you’re not shepherding green recruits, I mean?”

“This is my place.”

“Of course, but this can’t take up all your time. I meant, what else do you do? What are your plans for the future?”

“This is what I do,” she answered stiffly.

A few failed attempts at conversation later, I let silence fall between us until she stopped in front of a crystalline three-story castle. Sunlight danced across jutting, sharp-edged planes of glass. A Teddy the color of raspberry sherbet rose from the shadow of the building. I’d been so dazzled that I hadn’t even noticed him.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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BoojumsRCool
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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2016, 06:52:31 PM »

This one hit close to home with me. I have been without work for the past week and this is an experience that I have not had before (hence my frequent posting) and I am finding the experience a tad bit unsettling. I am first going to say that the story didn't go where I thought it would, with the main character being killed or something equally horrible happening to her. Full disclosure I have also been listening to some Lovecraftian audio dramas. The progression of the story and the main character was good with enough of a back story to have everything makes sense, though the pink teddy bears threw me a little and took a bit of effort to get past. When the end came and Mur was wrapping up I was thinking about the story, and what purpose and expectations really mean. Thanks again Escape Pod. 
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Thunderscreech
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2016, 08:36:48 PM »

This is the best story I've heard on Escape Pod in a long while.  This is not a criticism of the rest, this episode (both the story and perfect narration) was just that fantastic.

I wish I could contribute more to the conversation than brays of praise, but here we are.

This goes in my bin of eps with which to lure new listeners onboard.  "Come listen", I'll sing to my friends, "because today's the day you get to hear about a very special teddy bear's picnic…"
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wintermute
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2016, 09:53:50 PM »

I really liked this. It would be terrifying to have your life reduced to what an alien would comprehend as your purpose.

Also, how the hell can someone's purpose be to starve? I really want to hear that story.
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SpareInch
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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2016, 10:38:06 AM »

What a great story about social pigeonholing. I could write stuff about how  much that happens in real life, but it would come over as preachy, and one of the (other) great things about this story is that it isn't preachy.

I loved the way that the Teddy philosophy makes sense to them, and even to us in a way, and I can well imagine the arguments that could arise on the subject of Specialisation Vs Generalisation.

Also, how the hell can someone's purpose be to starve? I really want to hear that story.

Well, he had no income and didn't have the decency to request an assisted suicide. Ergo, it must be his purpose to starve. I kind of expected the starving Teddy to become her first convert, to be honest, but I guess missionary work just isn't that simple. Especially when the host government decides that charity work can't be done by a priest. That part was a beautifully crafted bit of weird.
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« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2016, 05:53:26 PM »

This one really didn't connect with me (there's always one...).  I found the visuals of the ursine race to be a bit too absurd for the story content.  I get what the author was going for (bears have incredible senses of smell ergo use scent to communicate emotion...) but it all came off as a bit silly.  

P.S.  It's his purpose to starve could be seen as a commentary on certain types of economies.  The super rich cannot exist with out super poor, therefore it is the purpose of many people to starve.  
« Last Edit: February 09, 2016, 05:33:42 AM by Not-a-Robot » Logged
Chairman Goodchild
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2016, 03:46:03 AM »

This one really didn't connect with me (there's always one...).

I had trouble with this one, too.  I found the narrator to be way too emotionally distant and complacent in this story.  She's suitably shocked and horrified when she finds out that the Teddy Bear religion is practicing human... er sentient Teddy Bear sacrifice and encouraging ritual starvation to death.  But she takes that knowledge and does nothing with it.  This is the kind of thing that she should probably go ahead and tell someone about.  Like her church elders.  Or the Earth government, which might be interested that a number of humans are joining a religion that encourages ritual murder and suicide.  But she doesn't do that, and the story ends with her making peace with this other religion that kills people.  That's not a very good ending for a story about a minister.  

And to add jaywalking charges to murder and arson, I didn't like the part where she walked into a restaurant and made quite a scene directly asking patrons for their leftovers and lying about having a delivery for the Lowertown residents, rather than quietly and respectfully approaching the owner like she should have done.  I can imagine a deleted scene in this story where the restaurant owner has the chef quickly make something so that the minister lady will get out and stop bothering his customers.  

I don't think this minister is cut out for her job at all.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2016, 04:15:40 AM by Chairman Goodchild » Logged
Thunderscreech
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2016, 02:17:48 PM »

His purpose is to starve because Da Bearsss subscribe to the Just World hypothesis (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_hypothesis).  Each Bear finds the purpose they're meant to because their processing through the wheel takes into account their successes and failures as failures as  individuals developing into their final form.

Da Bearsss believe in Karma so if anything good happens to one, it's because that was a good bear.  If a Bear starves....   then that it its purpose.  

Karma Bears from Space rocked.  The thing is, they're not really space bears, are they?  We see them on Facebook and in forums every day in any medium that's talking about things like homelessness, poverty, or any of the other thousands of discussions where the alternative is acknowledging the possibility that someone may be in a bad place because of factors beyond their control.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2016, 04:15:57 PM »

I was ok with the aliens being identified as teddies. Part of this was because I found this story resonant with Speaker for the Dead. That novel won All The Things while calling the other two sentient races Buggers and Piggies.

I really liked that this explored religion while being respectful while also not being didactic. And it managed to do this while never forgetting to be a story. 
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2016, 11:56:37 AM »

I was ok with the aliens being identified as teddies. Part of this was because I found this story resonant with Speaker for the Dead. That novel won All The Things while calling the other two sentient races Buggers and Piggies.

I really liked that this explored religion while being respectful while also not being didactic. And it managed to do this while never forgetting to be a story. 

Dammit Fenrix, you beat me to it.  I thought I might be the first one to mention Speaker for the Dead which this reminded me strongly of, in a good way.  Not a big stretch, considering the focus on earth religions clashing with the belief system of cutesy but dangerous alien species.

I love Speaker for the Dead a whole lot.  And any similarity here I did not see as a bad thing.



Anyway, I loved this story a lot.  Partly on the subject of social pigeonholing, but in large part because it's hard to really examine what religion is doing objectively without an outside source commenting "Hey, uh, you just murdered that guy.  Isn't that bad?"  "No, no, he asked to be murdered and this totally makes sense in our belief system".  And, hopefully, examining this in an internally consistent alien religion can encourage us to consider what our religions may make us do and whether those things are objectively good or just good due to our belief system that not everyone shares.

I am honestly very glad that I don't believe the teddy religious, as interesting as the concept is of worshipping a god who doesn't yet exist and to whom all intelligent creatures will be components.  Can you imagine how stressful it is to believe that anyone who's shirking responsibility is personally responsible for delaying the existence of your deity and maybe preventing it at all?  Have you ever tried to manage even a middling-sized group of employees and keep them all sufficiently productive indefinitely?  Good luck.  And even better luck trying to do that with ALL intelligent creatures, including ones from other planets--you may as well just come to grips with the fact that if that is necessary for God to be born... then God ain't gonna be born.  (in other words, if I were a teddy, I would be obligated to arrange my funeral because lines of thinking like this are only going to postpone God even further)


Anyway, loved Loved LOVED it.  Thank you, Abra Staffin-Wiebe for writing it, and EP staff for publishing it.

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« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2016, 12:04:32 PM »

I was ok with the aliens being identified as teddies. Part of this was because I found this story resonant with Speaker for the Dead. That novel won All The Things while calling the other two sentient races Buggers and Piggies.

I really liked that this explored religion while being respectful while also not being didactic. And it managed to do this while never forgetting to be a story. 

Dammit Fenrix, you beat me to it.  I thought I might be the first one to mention Speaker for the Dead which this reminded me strongly of, in a good way.  Not a big stretch, considering the focus on earth religions clashing with the belief system of cutesy but dangerous alien species.

I love Speaker for the Dead a whole lot.  And any similarity here I did not see as a bad thing.


I'm surprised I was the first to mention it. Anyone who liked this story would be well served to go pick up that novel. I like that this story nailed a couple of the major themes of SFTD in a very compact space.
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« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2016, 12:57:02 PM »

I'm a fan of all of the Ender books, and Speaker... is probably my #2 favorite for all of the reasons you describe. And because I think Speaker for the Dead would be a fantastic and worthwhile job for someone in our society. And I want to do it.
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Not-a-Robot
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« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2016, 04:43:50 PM »

I agree on The Speaker for the Dead vibe.  There are definately many parallels (especially the sacrifice).  I am also okay with the aliens being called teddies.  The overall themes were good.

It was just the visual, I was sort of picturing Care Bears and wonder of the evolutionary purpose of bright colored fur (maybe the teddies are poisonous?) and emotion smells so strong that off planet species can clearly deliniate them...

Why would they even need strong oral and visual communication if thier olifactory communication is so vivid?  Which, by the way, might be a great dynamic for a seperate story.  A species that communicates (almost) entirely through smells.

Anyways, (I don't want to sound like a jerk) what I am trying to say, is that the biologist in me got distracted by the shiny bears, and it pulled me away from the story...
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« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2016, 05:53:53 PM »

Why would they even need strong oral and visual communication if thier olifactory communication is so vivid?  Which, by the way, might be a great dynamic for a seperate story.  A species that communicates (almost) entirely through smells.

Not knowing the environment they evolved in, I have no idea.  But I don't see why a species can't have more than one functional sense.  Dogs can hear very well and see very well and see quite well for some criteria (colorblind but can see better in the dark than we can). 

I don't think it said the teddies had particularly sharpened other senses, the sense of smell was implied by the prevalence of that.  Having more functional senses gives an evolutionary advantage--sight is useful over longer distances than smell and might be more effective in a tight pack of teddies where the smells would mix and mingle.  Because of their body chemistry they might be able to produce only a limited set of scents and that would limit the rate of communication if you have to wait for the last smell to dissipate, especially if the smells are more reflexive than conscious (which is the sense that I got). 

I got the impression that the smells were more like a facial expression than speech.  We humans can read a lot of information from facial expressions, and can read that information faster and from a further distance and in a more noisier space than we can speak, but facial expressions are at least somewhat involuntary and there's a limit to the information one can convey--try explain how to take the integral under a curve or explain how to bake cookies or explain what you liked or didn't like about the new Star Wars movie using only facial expressions.

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Ocicat
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« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2016, 01:34:55 PM »

[Moderator note]

Messages that discussed the merits of Artemis Rising and not this story have been moved to Artemis Rising Discussion
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« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2016, 02:29:08 PM »

[Moderator note]

Messages that discussed the merits of Artemis Rising and not this story have been moved to Artemis Rising Discussion

Thanks!  I didn't know that thread was there!  I appreciate it.
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biomathics23
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« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2016, 06:54:15 PM »

I found the narrator to be way too emotionally distant and complacent in this story.  She's suitably shocked and horrified when she finds out that the Teddy Bear religion is practicing human... er sentient Teddy Bear sacrifice and encouraging ritual starvation to death.  But she takes that knowledge and does nothing with it.  This is the kind of thing that she should probably go ahead and tell someone about.  Like her church elders.  Or the Earth government, which might be interested that a number of humans are joining a religion that encourages ritual murder and suicide.  But she doesn't do that, and the story ends with her making peace with this other religion that kills people.  That's not a very good ending for a story about a minister.  

And to add jaywalking charges to murder and arson, I didn't like the part where she walked into a restaurant and made quite a scene directly asking patrons for their leftovers and lying about having a delivery for the Lowertown residents, rather than quietly and respectfully approaching the owner like she should have done.  I can imagine a deleted scene in this story where the restaurant owner has the chef quickly make something so that the minister lady will get out and stop bothering his customers.  

I don't think this minister is cut out for her job at all.

Completely agreed, but also for several other reasons.  This minister took several weeks to do more than merely preach to the token set of individuals that showed up.  Her superiors had to tell her about the other religion, and that she should go to it. (Yes, there is some indication that the other inhabitants kept this from her, but really, did she make no effort to get to know the local culture?  Heck, there are mentions of drunks stumbling into her services, she could at least ask them for the lay of the land.)

Also, that her immediate response to learning that the Teddies (and converted humans) had their own set of beliefs was not "Huh, I should get to know a lot more about these people if I want to have any chance of actually having a fruitful interaction with them," but instead "My profession called me to love my enemies instead of shoot at them, so how could I fight the Teddies’ doctrine?"  After one sermon, and before learning of the ritual killings, she had a black and white response: they are wrong, I must fight their beliefs, I cannot shoot them, how to stop them from their ignorant sinfulness? 

...which is fine, given her ex-marine background and newness to the preacher gig (what kind of training did she get anyway?), but from that point on, her character does not evolve at all.  She simply tries a few things, sees what works, and never questions her own view of the situation: I am right and they are wrong.  Her profession as she lives it is one of competing with native beliefs instead of connecting with the natives themselves.

Not to say I have not seen/had such preachers myself, but all those same charges--not being interested in other perspectives, believing oneself to have the totality of information necessary to the salvation of others, seeking to impose a traditional order with oneself at the head upon those that do not welcome it--can be levied at male hierarchical religions, including the throwaway reference at the beginning (the persons who might be objecting to a female preacher).  Her perspective with regard to religion is similar enough to that of the conquistadors and colonialists to give pause; no she didn't try to subjugate, enslave, or otherwise deny the "humanity" of them, but they are ignorant if noble pagans to be saved from themselves.

For me the spectrum of sensitivity to aliens with regard to religion runs from Blish's A Case of Conscience to Russell's The Sparrow; this one felt much closer to the former.  Which is to say as engaging as it was, as much as I enjoyed the premise and denouement, at the end I wanted much more from the preacher than I got.

On the plus side, I did appreciate the Saul reference at the end.  "Apostle to the Teddies" has a nice ring to it.
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« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2016, 10:11:33 AM »

Quote
but they are ignorant if noble pagans to be saved from themselves.

I guess that didn't bother me so much in this specific case because the teddies were ritually killing each other because of their belief system.  Maybe it's wrong to try to steer them away from that, but I don't think being taking a strong stance that murder is bad is a reprehensible one.

And, at the end of the day, she is working for an organization that survives by propogating its belief system, and the organization does that by encouraging its members to push that belief system on others.  I can't say that I love that, but it is a realistic part of her superiors' expectations of her occupational function.

That's my take on it anyway.  Smiley
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Thunderscreech
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« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2016, 11:32:25 AM »

Quote
but I don't think being taking a strong stance that murder is bad is a reprehensible one.
If the followers are dying in accordance with their will (for instance, the in-story killing we see), is it really murder?  Sounded like people were only killed at their own request, at least within the narrative.
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« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2016, 11:54:18 AM »

Quote
but I don't think being taking a strong stance that murder is bad is a reprehensible one.
If the followers are dying in accordance with their will (for instance, the in-story killing we see), is it really murder?  Sounded like people were only killed at their own request, at least within the narrative.
That's one of my favorite ST:TNG episodes -- the race that self terminates at age 60 regardless of circumstances. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half_a_Life_(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation)
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Moritz
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« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2016, 12:30:37 PM »

I think I am filing this episode as one of those "could be useful for an anthropology course" ones...
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« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2016, 12:54:34 PM »

Quote
but I don't think being taking a strong stance that murder is bad is a reprehensible one.
If the followers are dying in accordance with their will (for instance, the in-story killing we see), is it really murder?  Sounded like people were only killed at their own request, at least within the narrative.

I think that there's an argument for saying that people who ask to be killed should be allowed to be killed. 

Tricky question, though, if you believe that they are only asking to die because society expects them to ask to die, does that actually mean they WANT to die?  I don't know about you, but society expects a lot of things from me that I don't want to do but I feel pressured to do.  And, at a certain stage of my life (especially the teenage years) if there was a strong societal expectation for me to ask for death, maybe I would've, because at that age pushing back against expectations felt like death.  That doesn't mean I would've wanted it, and it doesn't mean it would be right.
If they want to die now and you save their life, and later they are grateful for you saving their life, does that mean that it was good to save them or not? 
If they do truly want to die, but only because they have been entrenched in a belief that appears to be provably untrue (that one can only ever have a single purpose), is it worth at least trying to delay the death to share a point of view that involves NOT dying?  Dying is, after all, irrevocable.

If one is to go by the argument that stopping people from dying who wish to die at the time, then where does that leave suicidally depressed human beings?  By that philosophy, is it ethically wrong to try to prevent a suicide when someone is in a downswing of depression?  What if the person thanks you for it later after their depression has been treated and is under some control? 

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« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2016, 12:59:13 PM »


I think that there's an argument for saying that people who ask to be killed should be allowed to be killed. 


One of the most fascinating arguments I've seen to encapsulate this concept: if you are not allowed to choose the means and time of your death, then who owns you?
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« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2016, 01:35:37 PM »

If one is to go by the argument that stopping people from dying who wish to die at the time, then where does that leave suicidally depressed human beings?  By that philosophy, is it ethically wrong to try to prevent a suicide when someone is in a downswing of depression?  What if the person thanks you for it later after their depression has been treated and is under some control?  
I think the right to make decisions on your own behalf trumps "what if." I mean, if someone can talk someone else out of it, great. But if not, there should be no burden on the living for it. I mean, what about the ones who are saved and continue horribly tortured lives just to make someone else happy?

And there's something of an argument to be made for mental illness being a function of natural selection. I'm not arguing the moral/ethical side here, I'm just saying, the human race grew and prospered before Zoloft, and arguably we did so in much better physical and mental shape.
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« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2016, 02:39:45 PM »

Quote
One of the most fascinating arguments I've seen to encapsulate this concept: if you are not allowed to choose the means and time of your death, then who owns you?


I am not sure that the teddies in the story are actually choosing their time of death, though, or if they are just doing what is expected of them.


I think the right to make decisions on your own behalf trumps "what if." I mean, if someone can talk someone else out of it, great. But if not, there should be no burden on the living for it. I mean, what about the ones who are saved and continue horribly tortured lives just to make someone else happy?

Absolutely.  I'm not saying it's a clear-cut issue.  I am saying that is NOT.  There are many different angles.  If someone is in the throes of depression but can recover and live a regular life with treatment, whether you are doing what they want depends on when you consider the question.  Maybe the day before they wanted to live, the day after they wanted to live, is it okay to let a person die in a brief time that they want to die, knowing that once the action is taken there is no way to take it back?

And there's something of an argument to be made for mental illness being a function of natural selection. I'm not arguing the moral/ethical side here, I'm just saying, the human race grew and prospered before Zoloft, and arguably we did so in much better physical and mental shape.

The human race makes lots of decisions that altered natural selection.  Diabetics, myopia, schizophrenia, cleft palate, any of these things would've been likely to kill someone at some point in history. 

Were we really in better physical shape, when life expectancy was in the 30's?

Were we really in better mental shape?

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« Reply #25 on: February 18, 2016, 02:42:49 PM »

Ultimately what I'm seeing in this tangential thread is an argument over an individual's right to direct their fate. Whereas, the question might be "Does the good of the many outweigh the needs of the few?" It seems that the teddies have circumvented this conundrum by just designating the outliers as "Outliers" and consigning them to their fate.

To be honest, I'm a little disturbed by the "colonialist" perspective that seems to be dominating this tangent. Murder is a human concept. Teddies are not human, therefore can we really apply our morality to their existence? Time and again here on earth certain cultural practices have been deemed barbaric and attempts have been made to eradicate them to "benefit" the participants with the somehow unpredictable result of total societal collapse. Why do we know better than the Teddies?
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« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2016, 03:49:04 PM »

To be honest, I'm a little disturbed by the "colonialist" perspective that seems to be dominating this tangent. Murder is a human concept. Teddies are not human, therefore can we really apply our morality to their existence? Time and again here on earth certain cultural practices have been deemed barbaric and attempts have been made to eradicate them to "benefit" the participants with the somehow unpredictable result of total societal collapse. Why do we know better than the Teddies?

Hah.  I had the same feeling.  I just failed to articulate it above.
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« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2016, 04:48:25 PM »

To be honest, I'm a little disturbed by the "colonialist" perspective that seems to be dominating this tangent. Murder is a human concept. Teddies are not human, therefore can we really apply our morality to their existence? Time and again here on earth certain cultural practices have been deemed barbaric and attempts have been made to eradicate them to "benefit" the participants with the somehow unpredictable result of total societal collapse. Why do we know better than the Teddies?

I may have not conveyed myself unclearly, but I wasn't trying to say that that protagonist was correct.  Especially when dealing with an alien species, our understanding may have no basis whatsoever.  Speaker for the Dead was very good at conveying that ambiguity and it's one of the reasons I liked that story and this one.

I think the protagonist thought she was doing good by trying to prevent teddies giving themselves up for death.  I can understand why she believes that.  I don't necessarily think that she is doing a good thing thing, and like I was trying to say about her behavior being dictated by the church's desire to expand (a kind of colonialism as you say) but which isn't necessarily in anyone's best interest. 

But, I also don't think it's clear cut that just because a teddy has asked for death, that it means that the teddy WANTS death.  Those are very different things, and I feel like, in her position, that would at least be a thing worth thinking about and discussing with the teddies.  For instance, that starving teddy's purpose is to starve, but when offered food it snatched that food up and ran.  If that teddy really WANTED to starve, then why does it do that?  From that it seems to me that it's at least possible that none of the teddies (or just some subset of the teddies) want to die any more than I want to die, but that they feel obligated to seek death by social pressures acting upon them. 

If one supposedly wants to starve but finds it very difficult to starve because your body makes you want to eat, is it okay to feed you?  Maybe the teddies would view that act like giving a recovering alcoholic a shot of whiskey--something that would be hard to resist but is ultimately going to wreck you.

I'm not really taking a stance on any of this, just saying that I think there's a lot of interesting ambiguity and I love that about this story.
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matweller
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« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2016, 12:05:42 AM »

Were we really in better physical shape, when life expectancy was in the 30's?

Were we really in better mental shape?
I don't know. Have you ever worked in a nursing home?

I'm not really taking a stance on any of this, just saying that I think there's a lot of interesting ambiguity and I love that about this story.

Agreed completely. I wasn't stating facts or even opinions, just throwing out possibilities to consider. Thinking all sides of a question is my specialty. Deciding on the best path after isn't always... Tongue

One of my favorite aspects of the recent rash of apocalypse stories in the world is the number of authors that acknowledge and account for the survivors that suddenly find themselves without a source for their meds.
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« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2016, 12:47:56 AM »

Overall, I really liked this story.  For me, and my personal experiences, it really connected.  At first, I wasn't sure if I liked the use of the scents the Teddy's gave off or not, but then later, as we encounter the Teddy whose purpose is to starve, I felt like that writing mechanic really started to work the way the author hoped it might.
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« Reply #30 on: February 19, 2016, 03:30:19 AM »

Were we really in better physical shape, when life expectancy was in the 30's?

Were we really in better mental shape?
I don't know. Have you ever worked in a nursing home?

- Aging researcher here

There are many therapies that extend life expectancy.  Many of those therapies also extend quality of life and have anti aging effects.  Are there some therapies that only extend life expectancy?  Yes, but most also extend quality of life.  Nevertheless, be are all going to age and die (if we're lucky) when it comes to that point, our bodies and minds go, but we have managed to push the biological age of an individual back with modern therapies. 

In other words, there are always going to be nursing homes, and we are always going to lose our bodies and minds before the end of life.  But this is something that has previously happened at a younger physical age.
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matweller
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« Reply #31 on: February 19, 2016, 09:36:53 AM »

Were we really in better physical shape, when life expectancy was in the 30's?

Were we really in better mental shape?
I don't know. Have you ever worked in a nursing home?

- Aging researcher here

There are many therapies that extend life expectancy.  Many of those therapies also extend quality of life and have anti aging effects.  Are there some therapies that only extend life expectancy?  Yes, but most also extend quality of life.  Nevertheless, be are all going to age and die (if we're lucky) when it comes to that point, our bodies and minds go, but we have managed to push the biological age of an individual back with modern therapies. 

In other words, there are always going to be nursing homes, and we are always going to lose our bodies and minds before the end of life.  But this is something that has previously happened at a younger physical age.
I probably should have added enough smilies to make it obvious that was very tongue-in-cheek. Mostly because I know my answer to the original question is that yes, I think from a higher-level view of the human animal, our species probably was probably hardier in a lot of ways in those earlier times. Mind you, some of the biggest jumps in life expectancy have come not from surgical or pharmacological advances, but from simple habit changes like hand washing and I'm not above removing dysentery from the list of life span reducers. And while I wouldn't propose a stop to the search for knowledge, I've sometimes wondered about the long term benefits of technologies that weaken the species by keeping abnormalities in the gene pool that would have otherwise been weeded out.

Though, as has come up in discussion of other stories that explore the topic, I also love the idea that some of those abnormalities could actually become advancements in themselves or by being allowed to develop into their next evolution. For example, we believe autistics may be super-high functioning within their own minds, they just lack the ability to articulate what's going on in there, so what if the next evolution of that was telepathy that allowed them to communicate with each other, and the next evolution of that was complete physical transcendence?

Regardless, I'm secure in the belief that I am not an evolution of anything and have asked my wife that when I get to be on the edge of daftness, if I walk off into the woods, she should not send anyone to find me for at least a week, and then the search party should come with shoves and just bury me where I lay. I expect that will be sometime in the next 25 years or so.
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« Reply #32 on: February 19, 2016, 01:59:11 PM »

- Aging researcher here

You mean you research ageing? Or that you're  a researcher who's knocking on in years? Tongue
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« Reply #33 on: February 19, 2016, 02:24:19 PM »

You mean you research ageing? Or that you're  a researcher who's knocking on in years? Tongue
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biomathics23
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« Reply #34 on: February 19, 2016, 05:31:07 PM »

I'm not really taking a stance on any of this, just saying that I think there's a lot of interesting ambiguity and I love that about this story.

Precisely what I enjoyed about it too.  Great fodder for discussion, especially among the inquisitive and open-minded.  I would also enjoy a sequel with a second human church of a different religion in the area to see how that would shake things up for the preacher.
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« Reply #35 on: February 19, 2016, 09:05:04 PM »

I'm not going to do quotes merely because my iPhone is a cumbersome mechanism for that. Suffice it to say I'm responding to the responses to my "colonialist perspective" mini-rant. I guess what I failed to say --in light of further clarifications- is that no one is talking about this (until now) from the Teddy's perspective. If someone comes along and tells you you no longer have a purpose (aka reason for being a part of God, reason for existing) whether it be starving or being a "worshiper" how's that gonna work for you?
The MC never questions her own purpose, but feels free to question the Teddy's. Hmmmm
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« Reply #36 on: February 21, 2016, 05:04:00 PM »

This one is still rattling around loose in my psyche -- and will most likely continue to do so for quite some time. I plan to share it with my Dad who's a Deacon in the Catholic Church.
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« Reply #37 on: February 22, 2016, 11:21:53 AM »

I'm not going to do quotes merely because my iPhone is a cumbersome mechanism for that. Suffice it to say I'm responding to the responses to my "colonialist perspective" mini-rant. I guess what I failed to say --in light of further clarifications- is that no one is talking about this (until now) from the Teddy's perspective. If someone comes along and tells you you no longer have a purpose (aka reason for being a part of God, reason for existing) whether it be starving or being a "worshiper" how's that gonna work for you?
The MC never questions her own purpose, but feels free to question the Teddy's. Hmmmm

I have been thinking about it from the Teddy's perspective, I guess I didn't say that?  I guess I thought that angle was clear enough from the story that we were all thinking it?  Maybe not?  

It would certainly be troublesome for someone to come into your world and declare that every belief that has given you purpose, that is your path to seeking god, is wrong.  I also think that, to the starving teddy, it might not be the worst thing in the world to be told "Hi, have some food.  If you don't starve, it's worth considering that God maybe won't die because of it."

I certainly think that she SHOULD question her purpose there and should take a more nuanced empathetic approach, but I thought it was internally consistent for a missionary to NOT do so given that the occupation involves trying to bring others into the fold.  

Quote
For example, we believe autistics may be super-high functioning within their own minds, they just lack the ability to articulate what's going on in there, so what if the next evolution of that was telepathy that allowed them to communicate with each other, and the next evolution of that was complete physical transcendence?

For what it's worth, I don't think that autistic people need to reach another stage of evolution and I'm not sure there's evidence that they are a new evolutionary thing, rather than just normal variation in brain functionality that has been around for all of human history but not recognized as such.  I think that neurodiversity is as important as biodiversity to allow the human species to be as flexible as possible for survival.  If we all think the same way, then the species as a whole is vulnerable to environmental conditions that are less easily resolved by that kind of thinkers.  


(I also don't think it's necessary for every person or group of people to serve a purpose in a measurable sense to be valuable.  That line of thinking can start down a scary path of eugenics leading to a set of characteristics that define a master race and how best to engineer that master race)
« Last Edit: February 22, 2016, 11:25:13 AM by Unblinking » Logged
matweller
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« Reply #38 on: February 22, 2016, 03:14:19 PM »

Quote
For example, we believe autistics may be super-high functioning within their own minds, they just lack the ability to articulate what's going on in there, so what if the next evolution of that was telepathy that allowed them to communicate with each other, and the next evolution of that was complete physical transcendence?

For what it's worth, I don't think that autistic people need to reach another stage of evolution and I'm not sure there's evidence that they are a new evolutionary thing, rather than just normal variation in brain functionality that has been around for all of human history but not recognized as such.  I think that neurodiversity is as important as biodiversity to allow the human species to be as flexible as possible for survival.  If we all think the same way, then the species as a whole is vulnerable to environmental conditions that are less easily resolved by that kind of thinkers.  

(I also don't think it's necessary for every person or group of people to serve a purpose in a measurable sense to be valuable.  That line of thinking can start down a scary path of eugenics leading to a set of characteristics that define a master race and how best to engineer that master race)

I don't think autistics need to evolve either. It was a story idea. I like fiction. It's why I'm here.

Nor was I advocating eugenics. Like most things humans do, it could be beneficial, but we cannot handle the responsibility. We can't get US citizens to agree that all children should be cared for and fed regardless of the circumstances of their birth -- we're clearly not ready for the moral questions involved in eugenics. Save that for when we get to Star Trek's post-economy civilization.
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« Reply #39 on: February 22, 2016, 05:14:15 PM »

I don't think autistics need to evolve either. It was a story idea. I like fiction. It's why I'm here.

I didn't think you were saying autistics need to evolve but that you were suggesting autism might be a sign of an intermediate stage of evolution, and I was responding to that?  If we were just talking about potential ways to explore the topic in stories then I can't argue with that!  I really enjoyed "Movement" by Nancy Fulda here on EP, for example.

Nor was I advocating eugenics. Like most things humans do, it could be beneficial, but we cannot handle the responsibility. We can't get US citizens to agree that all children should be cared for and fed regardless of the circumstances of their birth -- we're clearly not ready for the moral questions involved in eugenics. Save that for when we get to Star Trek's post-economy civilization.

I didn't mean to say that you advocate eugenics.  But I've had conversations where the topic of the evolutionary advantage of this human trait or that human trait and whether these would be advantageous traits and it seems like those conversations tend to start getting into uncomfortable territory of eugenics more often than not (whether either person advocates it or not).  I guess I didn't have any specific point with saying that, other than that, even if we can all agree on what is a good survival trait and what isn't, deciding what to do with that information can lead down some paths that get uncomfortable pretty quickly.  I should have considered more carefully, I didn't mean to imply.




Aaaanyway...  maybe I should stop speaking up now?  We are rather far afield, and I think I may have caused offense with my previous post.   I should let people talk about the story.  Smiley
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« Reply #40 on: February 23, 2016, 05:26:55 AM »


I didn't mean to say that you advocate eugenics.  But I've had conversations where the topic of the evolutionary advantage of this human trait or that human trait and whether these would be advantageous traits and it seems like those conversations tend to start getting into uncomfortable territory of eugenics more often than not (whether either person advocates it or not).  I guess I didn't have any specific point with saying that, other than that, even if we can all agree on what is a good survival trait and what isn't, deciding what to do with that information can lead down some paths that get uncomfortable pretty quickly.  I should have considered more carefully, I didn't mean to imply.


It's far too complicated when you consider trait-linkage, sexual selection, reproductive advantages, penetrance, environmental change, social selection...

Furthermore, many people forget (mainly because there is only one species in the Homo genus) that evolution is not a straight line. It doesn't move in steps, but branches like a tree (see phylogenetics).
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« Reply #41 on: February 23, 2016, 03:57:43 PM »

You mean you research ageing? Or that you're  a researcher who's knocking on in years? Tongue
We're allele curious, tell o'mere.

Haha.

Today I discovered that I am one day older than yesterday.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #42 on: February 29, 2016, 03:27:47 PM »

Wonderful, fascinating story, and such an interesting discussion! One thing that I don't believe has been emphasized here is that she pretty much says outright that she's brand new at being a preacher, and she's not terribly comfortable in the role. When she accidentally witnessed the ritual funeral, she immediately snapped back into warrior mode and had to actively talk herself down. So, every time she did something that a more traditional preacher/priest/pastor probably wouldn't or should do, I just attributed it to that.

One of my favorite parts came when she realized that she could be doing charity work. (Coercing food out of the restaurant was one of those "good intentions... interesting methods" moments). I love that to us it makes perfect sense that a preacher would do charity work, but to the Teddies this was very much outside their understanding of her purpose. I was hoping for the story to go more strongly down that path, but it was still lovely to see this thread of the story.
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« Reply #43 on: March 02, 2016, 08:58:09 AM »

While I liked some of the world building, and the Teddies' religion, it didn't quite work for me.  Although I did appreciate the irony of the Teddies' religion being the forcing factor for the preacher finding her purpose on Landry’s World.

At some points she was completely certain of her own rightness (her very black & white reaction to the T's religion), in others very passive (her lack of interest in the T's religion until it was basically forced upon her, her passive acceptance of her low church attendances). Her behaviour and reactions felt kind of inconsistent to me.

I think part of the problem for me is that I never got a feel for the preacher's own religion — so as a reader I don't have anything to contrast the Teddies against (and it didn't really feel like the preacher did either).
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eytanz
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« Reply #44 on: March 05, 2016, 11:08:52 AM »

Moderator's note:

I didn't split out the speculation by Mat about evolution and the place of aging/suffering/mental illnesses/eugenics in human society, and the responses to it, from the thread earlier because many of the responses were in the same posts as comments on the story, and the discussion seemed to stop. However, as it looks like it has started again, I'm splitting the most recent contributions out of this thread, and into this one. Please continue that aspect of the conversation there rather than here.
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« Reply #45 on: March 07, 2016, 08:28:13 AM »

I'm surprised by those who seem to assume ministers will always be completely consistent in their thoughts and actions, and perfect in their fulfillment of their roles. (Especially a brand new one!) I'm fairly sure there is no point in seminary training where they suddenly become no longer human like the rest of us.

I greatly respect the fact that the author explored the idea of what forms religion might take in other cultures without making it painfully clear what they think the right answer must be for all cultures everywhere and everywhen. She didn't preach at us, she showed a fallible human, ex-drunk, ex-Marine trying to build a new life as an inexperienced minister on that foundation, thrust into a totally alien culture and trying to figure out how to deal with all of that.

It seems to me entirely believable that an alien culture could develop with the "one purpose" idea. I think there might be other aspects to that--for example, teddies voluntarily ending their lives because they're sick to death of doing nothing but that one purpose...but I'm anthropomorphizing. I agreed with Mur's comments at the end that she'd like to have explored all of this more, but the author left us at just the right place.
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« Reply #46 on: March 07, 2016, 11:23:32 AM »

I'm surprised by those who seem to assume ministers will always be completely consistent in their thoughts and actions, and perfect in their fulfillment of their roles. (Especially a brand new one!) I'm fairly sure there is no point in seminary training where they suddenly become no longer human like the rest of us.

It was how the character changed over time that I found unconvincing. I couldn't connect the person who spent weeks preaching to an almost empty church, to the person who ran out and guilt tripped the restaurant owner into charitable contributions. I can believe a character going from a -> b, but the transition in this instance didn't really convince me.
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Scatcatpdx
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« Reply #47 on: March 30, 2016, 01:05:25 AM »

I like the story it hit me in the gut. I noted some did not  get  the religion of the teddies. let me explain in two names:

Rich Warren
Joel Osteen

It is  the  feel Good, Purpose Driven  therapeutic, moralistic  deism with a helping of American consumerism.

I came out of them mega church , seeker sensitive movement. While the teddies response was disturbing it was understandable. I seen some who were tormented  in their faith  because   what the person on the stage is pushing  the stage  ; the person feel they  haven’t found their purpose, not extreme in their faith or not  “missional”. The purpose drive dribble almost destroyed my Christian faith ,I finally pulled back from the abyss  leaving American Evangelism for Reform  and Anglicanism.
As an added bonus the  aliens are furries. The only black spot was Mur Lafferty  outburst at  the end.  
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cloudscudding
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« Reply #48 on: January 07, 2017, 10:24:31 PM »

Hello, everyone! Author here.

I loved watching listener/reader reactions and the discussions that came out of this story. I'm popping in to remind you that this story, along with all Artemis Rising stories and this list, is eligible for award nominations for stories from 2016.

If you have particularly liked one of these stories, nominate it! It's a great way to help a story reach a wider audience.

Until next, happy listening!
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