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Author Topic: EP524: Scrapmetal  (Read 3149 times)

eytanz

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on: March 08, 2016, 08:46:31 AM
EP524: Scrapmetal

By Nan Craig

read by Cat Rambo

This story was previously published in Arc Magazine, issue 1.3 ‘Afterparty Overdrive,’ September 2012

---

I lay on my back on the grass and howled. No one was going to hear me up here, anyway, so I let go. I was no singer, mind, and the whiskey in me didn’t help. I started off singing something, something old, and then let it degenerate into yodels that swooped off into the overcast skies like gulls. I half hoped I could shoot something down with my wild yells.

I just wanted to forget. Forget what? Oh, everything. The last six weeks, the last six years, the whole of the sky and all under it. It was harder to get drunk than I’d thought, even on this 47% stuff. The wet grass soaked my t-shirt through to my muscles. They didn’t even ache, the bloody useless powerful things. There was no chance. No chance for nothing.

I’d thought no one could hear me shout, but then I heard an answering whoop. It could have been a bird, I guess, but I knew the voice already – it was Ioan. As soon as I’d registered that the wind stole all sound of him away from me for a few minutes and then I heard his breath again as he reached me, puffing a bit against the incline of the hill, hurrying. He stood over me, casting a weak shadow, and toed me gently with one boot.

“What’re you up to, now, eh? You look bare plastered. How have you even managed it? I thought you didn’t get drunk, Sergeant Major?”

I propped myself up on my elbows and took another swig.

“I’m not drunk,” I said. “I’m just trying to be. I’m an extravagant failure. At this. And everything else, so they tell me.” I gestured with the bottle down at the town below us. Port Talbot, sprawling and gasping.

He kicked me in the ribs then, not so gently, though we both knew I wouldn’t bruise.

“Anyway, it’s Captain,” I said. “And I’ll do a little private court martial if you’re not careful. Up here no one can here you scream.”

“Ooh, Sarge,” he said. “D’you promise?”

He was kidding. Helen wouldn’t even have cared. She had no reason to be jealous of me, sadly.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!



PodBroad

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Reply #1 on: March 10, 2016, 12:55:58 PM
I really enjoyed listening to this story. The writing is sharp and original, sassy and smart. And Cat Rambo is unsurpassed in her narration.
Good stuff!!
I was a little confused with the ending, but that might just be me.  :-\



Scuba Man

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Reply #2 on: March 12, 2016, 05:04:09 PM
I really enjoyed listening to this story. The writing is sharp and original, sassy and smart. And Cat Rambo is unsurpassed in her narration.
Good stuff!!
I was a little confused with the ending, but that might just be me.  :-\
&&&&&&&&&&&&
I had to agree with PodBroad and her last sentence.  I couldn't figure out why our ubersoldier was at this private clinic.  I only figured out that it was a mod-shop at the end of the story.  My view: strong start, interesting middle, and a weak finish.
Normally, Cat Rambo's voice makes me cringe; however, she fitted this character well.  I'm sorry, Cat, but your voice reminds me of some of the 19-25 year old idealogues when I was growing up in Vancouver's East End (and Commercial Drive).  Ms. Rambo, that's my baggage, not yours.  I'm pleased that you also support my EA.

"What can do that to a man?  Lightning... napalm? No, some people just explode [sic]. Natural causes".  Source: Repo Man.


empathy44

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Reply #3 on: March 12, 2016, 09:23:36 PM
I assumed she was getting different mods, not having them totally removed. She'd spent way too long talking about how impossible it was to be without mods and how difficult it was with her current mods.



Scuba Man

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Reply #4 on: March 13, 2016, 10:30:18 PM
I assumed she was getting different mods, not having them totally removed. She'd spent way too long talking about how impossible it was to be without mods and how difficult it was with her current mods.
If our character existed, she could move up to our 10 Ha woodlot up on the Bruce Peninsula. Work at the local quarry, with a pick axe. We'd provide her room & board... And no sudden movements.

"What can do that to a man?  Lightning... napalm? No, some people just explode [sic]. Natural causes".  Source: Repo Man.


CatRambo

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Reply #5 on: March 15, 2016, 03:30:35 PM
Quote
I'm sorry, Cat, but your voice reminds me of some of the 19-25 year old idealogues when I was growing up in Vancouver's East End (and Commercial Drive).

I can totally grok this; thank you for that kind clarification.

This one was a lot of fun to read



Unblinking

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Reply #6 on: March 18, 2016, 02:58:34 PM
I really liked most of this story, though I tend to dig empathetically written soldier-trying-to-adapt-to-everyday-life tales.  The issues of trying to be a superpowered human where those superpowers are not at all suited for the job market was well done.

The ending, though. I didn't get it at all, I rewound a couple times thinking I'd missed something.  Al's interpretation makes sense, but even relistening I'm not sure that's what was supposed to have happened or not.  It was a big ellipsis where I wanted some different punctuation.





Lionman

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Reply #7 on: March 21, 2016, 03:24:19 PM
While I liked the story, I felt like we might have been left wondering too much about what this grittier, seedier side of being a modern veteran looks like.  It wasn't quite the 'wanting more' feeling, thought it might not be a huge leap to getting there.  I just felt like this may have been as tightly distilled a 'short story' as one could make from something larger, and it left me feeling like there was just parts, details, tidbits, missing.

Failure is an event, not a person.


Captain (none given)

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Reply #8 on: April 08, 2016, 07:09:13 AM
Post-industrial.... Such a word...

This story worked on several levels for me. This idea of people becoming out-moded and obsolete, veterans unable to come home, a failing economy as people are unequipped to adapt to an ever evolving world.

Excuse me now, I'm going to go off with my feels now and have deep thoughts

"The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart." -- Maya Angelou


Devoted135

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Reply #9 on: April 18, 2016, 03:40:48 PM
I really felt for this protagonist and the Catch-22-esque situation she's in. She made the best decision she knew how, and it has totally backfired on her. Not to mention the (unsurprisingly) incredibly inhumane treatment of the soldiers by the army. I mean, we already do a poor job of helping soldiers to rehabilitate back into society; leaving them with insatiable cravings and no way to provide for them takes it to a whole new level.

I too found the ending to be frustratingly ambiguous. I think she was having some of her mods removed, but I don't think we can tell 100% just from the information provided in the story.



FeloniusMonk

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Reply #10 on: April 19, 2016, 11:25:34 PM
I really, really enjoyed this story.

My impression from the ending was that she was going to a black market surgeon to sell her military mods (presumably worth a lot to the right people) in exchange for more useful mods to her. Being black market I would be under the impression this is incredibly illegal (international arms dealing for military grade mods maybe?) and also extremely risky, what with an unknown surgeon in a back alley room.
The last line made me think she's grasping at what might be the last moment of life.



SF.Fangirl

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Reply #11 on: May 09, 2016, 02:27:54 PM
My impression from the ending was that she was going to a black market surgeon to sell her military mods (presumably worth a lot to the right people) in exchange for more useful mods to her.

This is the best explanation in the forum.  I was under the impression that she was getting from the black market the mods needed to stay in her home town, but the idea (not hinted at in the story as far as I noticed) that she's paying for them by trading her military mods is great.  That very illegal trade could be why she had never considered it herself or even come up with it herself since it implied her friend suggested this last ditch attempt to her. OTOH I thought she was getting her mods removed so she would qualify for one of those public dole plans for people without mods. Taking advantage of a loophole by making herself eligible for public assistance to get the right mods.

I ended up being disappointed.  The ending was too ambiguous about what was happening. Really left the readers hanging with no explanation as to what was going on at the end of the story except something with her mods.



CryptoMe

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Reply #12 on: November 16, 2017, 05:34:04 AM
I am ambivalent about this story. On the one hand, spending time to improve yourself only to become obsolete as soon as you are done is a very pertinent issue at he moment. On the other hand, I find it very hard to believe that a society would spend money on human mods rather than automation. The MC already hints at the army moving towards automation, so I would expect all other industries to follow suit. This point completely jarred me out of the story.