Author Topic: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars  (Read 3493 times)

eytanz

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EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« on: February 14, 2016, 10:43:03 AM »
EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars

By Alanna McFall

read by Amanda Fitzwater

with guest host Amy Sturgis

---

Aisha sighed and stared down the pile completely obscuring her in-tray. Maybe if she glared at it long enough, it would shrink under the full power of her frustration. She could see scraps of different alphabets scrawled across the pages, everything from the swooping curves of Arabic to the dots and jagged spikes of Ortaxaben. A small cube on the top of the pile was a form written in three-dimensional Kem script, and would take over an hour to get into English. If she had to translate it into Sssstip it could take all day, taking concepts with a million shades of grey built into the letters themselves and synthesizing it into a language with less than two hundred words.

It was days like these that she dreaded even coming into the office. Everyone had told her that she was crazy to take a job at the Extraterrestrial Community Outreach and Legal Assistance Bureau, had told her that she could get a much better job somewhere else, but had she listened? No, she had been all starry eyed, almost literally, about helping the visitors to Earth and representing her planet. Five years later, she was tempted to shove everything that wasn’t strictly confidential in a box, take it home, and do her work in her pajamas while eating cereal. She hadn’t entirely ruled out that option for the day. But for the moment she was here, and there was nothing else to it but to buckle down and get to work.

Near the top of the pile there was a notice on a Shess Global Languages refresher course being held in two weeks; Aisha rubbed her temples. She couldn’t really complain, when being even just familiar in SGLs would guarantee her bills were always paid. But the reason almost no other translators bothered with them, the reason there were such frequent refresher courses, was that the languages changed on an almost daily basis. In a sentient, advanced species with a lifespan of little more than a decade, the Shess youth learned fast and made their own indelible marks on the dialects in the few years it took them to reach adolescence. Dialects shifted and melted together and moved apart, slang came into and went out of style before it could be studied, and at best estimation, the SGL set contained at least four hundred different languages. Aisha could just barely claim fluency in the three most spoken on Earth, and it was a fight to keep up.

But she knew it was an important fight. So many of the cases she was brought in to translate for were a complete mess. Humans gouging Shess at every turn because they knew the legal proceedings could drag out over years. Why charge your Shess tenants a fair rent when they could literally grow old and die in the time it took to cut through the legal jargon of the alien amnesty laws? Anything that could make matters go faster was a godsend to the legal aids.

Aisha just did not want to think about this today: about unfair practices and abuses and the mundane worsts that any species could offer. She looked at the pile of paper and all she saw was a mess of trouble, waiting for her to start to untangle it. Even if she wasn’t the one to deal with the next steps, even if she would be handing it over to the social workers and paralegals once it was translated, it still tired her. She was so, so tired.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: March 01, 2016, 09:43:22 PM by eytanz »

jundar

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2016, 09:16:57 PM »
First thought after the ending: Too short, oh, so much too short. This story stopped at the point where I wanted to continue for, oh, at least a decent novella. I really enjoyed the setting and the emotional investment of the characters worked well for me. And, yay, sentient space-whales, what's not to like about THAT!

Second thought and note as a non-native English speaker/listener: At first I was a bit irritated by the emotional reading style of Amanda for this episode. Curiously (or rather, fittingly), this irritation vanished with my own emotional reaction and investment in the story and the two women. As the story finished I realized Amanda's delivery was working so well for me that it actually added to the overall experience. Didn't see that coming in the first two minutes :-)
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TrishEM

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2016, 09:45:46 AM »
Having 10 minutes of intro and outro for a 15-minute story seemed a bit excessive to me, especially as the intro seemed to be pushing hard to give the listener preconceptions about the story. I'd much rather experience the story on more of its own terms rather than feeling steered by literary history and an opening summary. It took me a few minutes of trying to listen to the story itself before I could shake off that impatience and irritation and focus on what was happening.

I did end up enjoying the story a lot. Some may complain that not much happened, but I really liked the feeling that it gave of opening up from a closed position (the frustrated translator/bureaucrat) to internal connections (with her diffident yet enthusiastic colleague and with how she used to feel about her own work) to external outreach (with the rest of the universe). The last bit about the two women feeling the web of the universe and strengthening that web via their attempt at communication was lovely.

I rather liked how the story concluded in that open-ended way, with the seminar invitation being sung/given but with no indication of how it would be received. Obviously the story could have continued from there, but then it would have ended up being a different story with a different focus. Here, the emphasis really is on the act of outreach, of striving for connection, rather than on whatever informational exchange may have followed.

However, I would certainly be interested to hear more stories set in this universe, such as more about the alien amnesty laws and how the legal aids try to protect the short-lived Shess from being gouged. I admire how such a short story can hint at such richness and complexity.

Dwango

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2016, 10:05:15 PM »
I'm more of the 'Nothing Happened' opinion.  I like a story to have more of a point, and this was just an impression.  It was just stating "isn't it great to have hope once in a while in a mundane world".  While in my real world, just knowing there are aliens in the universe would be great, in a story I want more to happen then just a hopeful communication.  Actually having either some interaction with the aliens or some resolution would be great, not just the sentiment.

Not-a-Robot

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2016, 09:03:53 PM »
I'm more of the 'Nothing Happened' opinion.

While I wasn't a huge fan of this story, I don't agree that nothing happened.  There was a huge internal struggle for one character of this story, a feeling as if she had lost her way in the world (that would seem extraodinary to us, but mundane to her), and the discovery that others feel the same way.  By the end of the story she had found meaning in mundane existence.

That's huge.  As a scientist who reads science fiction, I can relate.  I find stories like this more meaningful in my life. While the struggles of science may seem exciting from the outside, for me, they're something quite mundane.  Research never, ever, ever happens like it does in science fiction stories.  There is never, ever, ever a eureka moment.  There is never a rouge scientist off working on his/her own to make huge discoveries.  There's almost always a huge collaboration involved, and research is ssssslllllllooooooooowwwwww.  Most of the time I am lost in the trees of science, unable to see the forest, unable to appreciate the beauty, wondering if what I do will ever make a difference, wondering why the hell I even bother.

So, most times I prefer internal battles stories, because that's much of what my life is.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2016, 09:07:22 PM by Not-a-Robot »

Lionman

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2016, 05:28:54 AM »
I didn't dislike this story.  However, while it felt like the author was trying to crescendo the feeling of grandness of the universe and how small we are in it, I was left a little flat.

But, I would like to see or hear more about this world and expanded universe.
Failure is an event, not a person.

Devoted135

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #6 on: February 29, 2016, 08:31:53 PM »
I'm more of the 'Nothing Happened' opinion.

While I wasn't a huge fan of this story, I don't agree that nothing happened.  There was a huge internal struggle for one character of this story, a feeling as if she had lost her way in the world (that would seem extraodinary to us, but mundane to her), and the discovery that others feel the same way.  By the end of the story she had found meaning in mundane existence.

That's huge.  As a scientist who reads science fiction, I can relate.  I find stories like this more meaningful in my life. While the struggles of science may seem exciting from the outside, for me, they're something quite mundane.  Research never, ever, ever happens like it does in science fiction stories.  There is never, ever, ever a eureka moment.  There is never a rouge scientist off working on his/her own to make huge discoveries.  There's almost always a huge collaboration involved, and research is ssssslllllllooooooooowwwwww.  Most of the time I am lost in the trees of science, unable to see the forest, unable to appreciate the beauty, wondering if what I do will ever make a difference, wondering why the hell I even bother.

So, most times I prefer internal battles stories, because that's much of what my life is.

Preach.

matweller

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #7 on: February 29, 2016, 08:38:09 PM »
So, most times I prefer internal battles stories, because that's much of what my life is.
If not for those, Stephen King's repertoire would be cut in half.

Devoted135

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2016, 08:42:18 PM »
Okay, now to the story. :D

I think that Escape Pod excels at bringing us these short story snippets scattered throughout the more normal length ones. Any longer and this would have outstayed its welcome, or it would have had to lose focus and have more "happen." But at this length it was a wonderful exploration of hope renewed through an unexpected means. I liked it. :)

zoanon

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2016, 06:40:36 PM »
this story was pretty, I liked it.
I would love to read a full length story in this universe.

Unblinking

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2016, 03:16:49 PM »
I would've liked to see more immediate action.

The main thing I took away was that I thought the idea of a species being able to hear anything in the universe spoken in its language is a really interesting one. 

adrianh

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2016, 09:35:01 AM »
I really rather liked this — but somehow didn't comment at the time. Loved the world that was built in such a short piece — and would love to read more in the setting. The Extraterrestrial Community Outreach Centre felt like something you could use as a framing device for lots of interesting tales — like James White's Sector General stories. I want to know how they took those landlords down!

Ichneumon

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2016, 09:03:41 PM »
With all the wonder, mystery, culture, etc. from being in contact with countless other sentient beings brings, human still end up bored at desk jobs. No matter how amazing your world is, your attitude and choices can still make you miserable.

CryptoMe

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Re: EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2017, 05:51:57 AM »
As many have pointed out, the universe in this story was very intriguing and I want to know more about it!!
The actual story though, was just okay, but certainly enough to draw me in for more if it were to come....