Author Topic: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies  (Read 3817 times)

eytanz

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EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« on: June 07, 2016, 03:58:27 PM »
EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies

By Gary Kloster

read by Roberto Suarez

---

he kids ambushed me on the west side of the camp, near a line of abandoned latrines. Every time they hit me I gasped for breath, and sucked in the reek of old shit.

“Worthless. Everything you got.” A kick thumped into my ribs, driven by lazy contempt, not bone-cracking rage. “Why do you only bring toys here, gringo? You want the little girls to play with you? Or do you like the little boys better?”

The boy bared his teeth at me, lips twisted by an old scar, and his gang laughed. A dozen dirty little scarecrows, the youngest maybe ten, the oldest maybe fifteen. Gangs like this crept around the edges of the Minchin Refugee Camp like feral dogs, fearful, curious.

Vicious.

I’d watched them, boys choking on machismo and desperation, making fun of the peacekeepers as they passed. Listened to them taunt the girls. I’d hated seeing how this place wasted them, turned them small and stupid and angry.

Now, face down and hurting in the dirt far from the center of the camp and the protection of the peacekeepers, I just hated them.

“You come back, you better bring something better than toys. Or we won’t be so nice.” One more kick, and I managed to roll enough so that it caught me on the shoulder and not the head.

They walked away, laughing. They had my coat, my cell phone, and my satchel full of Qbooks. The phone was a burner, with less than an hour left to it. The coat was cheap, but I’d miss it on the walk back through the Andean night. The Qbooks, though…

Their loss hurt me more than the kicks to the ribs.

Maybe one of them would keep one. Stare at the tablet’s cheap screen and wonder about the symbols that danced across it. He might listen to it, play with it, and learn. Learn to read and write, learn math, science, languages. Maybe he would learn enough to escape this place and grow into a man wise enough to change the world, and end the need for camps like this once and for all.

“Or maybe you should get yourself checked for brain damage, Raul,” I muttered as I slowly pushed myself up out of the dust. “Because I think you’re starting to hallucinate.”


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!

Frank Evans

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2016, 08:41:09 AM »
I'm conflicted on this one. I thought it was well written and it's refreshing to read something set in the future where the world is recognizable as a logical evolution from where we stand today. The Q books and Lithium War are both ideas that can easily be extrapolated from current technology and political conditions (the Q books reminded me a bit of Ender's tablet and the giant game) and I think the author did a good job of giving us a view of an entirely possible future. The characters were well drawn out and, as the host noted at the end of the podcast, I liked the evolution in Raul's thinking about his role with Finding Genius.

So, as far as I'm concerned, all the pieces are there for a good story. Which is why I'm having trouble figuring out why this one didn't resonate with me. Maybe it's just that, despite what I wrote earlier about the near future (and non-dystopian) vision being a nice change of pace, there weren't enough distant planets or derelict spaceships to satisfy my sci-fi craving for today. And that says much more about me than it does this story.

Katzentatzen

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2016, 12:50:45 PM »
Nice story, loved the Beast, but wasn't sic fi enough for me, I guess. Though, as I mostly read and listen to genre fiction, maybe it's okay to sneak a bit of real life issues in there for me to consume.
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bounceswoosh

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2016, 04:01:27 PM »
I liked the reality that helping the kids had real consequences for the adults - the main character got beaten up over and over. His ex had to stay at a company she was done with. The girl may end up with a better contract than the kids who came before her got, and maybe that implies a future for improved conditions for genius kids.

But what about the regular old kids also sold into slavery and otherwise abused?

Scuba Man

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2016, 08:02:12 PM »
I was slackjawed for the first 6-7 minutes. As a high school teacher, I really had to suspend disbelief while the guy was being pounded on by the teenagers. And then the guy dusts himself off and hopes the kids chose to try learning from the Q-books. Tough listen... Will keep chipping away at it.

&&&&&&&&
Timestamp 18:26. Re: protagonist speaking to the representative from the Gates Foundation. Eeek. The narrator's attempt at a Californian/New York drawl made me cringe. I prefer narrators that just let their cadance & tone shine through....

$$$$$$$$$
Timestamp 36:25. Narrator got frustrated and repeated a paragraph. Uh oh.   :o

&&&&&&&&
I'm glad I listened to it. The protagonist's singlemindedness was what I felt as a rookie teacher (it's morphed into something else since then). I think a title based on the lithium resource conflict would have been a better choice.  :)
« Last Edit: June 12, 2016, 08:32:38 AM by Scuba Man »
"What can do that to a man?  Lightning... napalm? No, some people just explode [sic]. Natural causes".  Source: Repo Man.

Scuba Man

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2016, 08:31:21 AM »
But what about the regular old kids also sold into slavery and otherwise abused?

They fall through the cracks. This was a near future story. Speculative nonfiction?
"What can do that to a man?  Lightning... napalm? No, some people just explode [sic]. Natural causes".  Source: Repo Man.

bounceswoosh

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2016, 10:04:33 PM »
But what about the regular old kids also sold into slavery and otherwise abused?

They fall through the cracks. This was a near future story. Speculative nonfiction?

Right. I just ... it seemed to me the protagonist didn't really care about that, or at most noticed it briefly only once.

Not-a-Robot

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2016, 09:23:51 AM »
But what about the regular old kids also sold into slavery and otherwise abused?

My thought exactly.  The charity seemed rather selfish, it was designed to fish out genius or rather people who were natually good with computers. Or people who were obsessed with spending time of computers, and send them to the USA or companies in the USA, but forgot about everyone else...

Maybe

Fenrix

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2016, 04:31:05 PM »
I don't think it's fair to beat up on our protagonist for only saving this batch of girls. He can't save everyone, and he's got to pay for the extraction, and that's only going to happen if one of the extractees is of value.

Saving everyone is not possible. Holding that against our protagonist is neither realistic or fair.
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Not-a-Robot

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2016, 03:52:43 AM »
Saving everyone is not possible. Holding that against our protagonist is neither realistic or fair.

Sure, but removing the top talent pool from a struggling society does not help that society and causes resentment among the population. Plus, I am a big believer in nuture over nature when it comes to education. Pick most any kid and give them a great education in something that they are passionate about, add a fair portion of luck and, voila! out pops a genius. 

Let's put it this way-- I'm agree with the Gates Foundation on the potential of his charity.

Unblinking

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2016, 11:03:15 AM »
Hmmm...   I admit I did have some reservations along the lines of Not-A-Robot's about whether this charity's goals, even its more ideal moments.

I did like to see the evolution into becoming an advocate for the kids involved though.

In the end it felt comparatively mundane, though I think it was worthwhile, I kept hoping for something more whizbang.  Which, as Frank said, probably says more about me than about the story.

Not-a-Robot

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2016, 12:09:04 PM »
Anyways, I just wanted to add that I was a fan of the mundane-ness of this one, and I agree with Unblinking, the evolution of the MC to an advocate was definately a high point.

Devoted135

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2016, 08:35:46 PM »
Hm, this one was interesting. The opening was super weird and made me think the narrator was about 10 years old. I'm really not sure what its purpose was. I enjoyed the rest of it more, especially the very end when Beast started advocating for herself and forcing him to advocate for her.

I do agree that he can't save everybody so it's good to at least save some kids. On the other hand, specifically pulling out the smart ones will likely lead to harm unless they are able to go back and help their country of origin once they've been educated.

CryptoMe

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Re: EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2017, 02:22:46 PM »
This one really resonated with me because of the "Find out what people want *before* you decide to help them" message. This is a very important message today as we re-evaluate the legacy of colonialism, which was guilty of swooping in and "fixing" cultures in their own image, throughout the world. Because of that, I could overlook the other issues with the story, which several forumites have already mentioned.