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Author Topic: EP534: Joolie & Irdl  (Read 1438 times)
eytanz
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« on: July 01, 2016, 05:23:47 PM »

EP534: Joolie & Irdl

By Sandy Parsons

read by Nicola Seaton-Clark

---

The first time Irdl heard Joolie sing his pollinators stiffened under their leathery sheath. He’d had to switch from his walking legs to his squatters to remain upright. She was oblivious as he fell in behind her. She sang a human song, logical enough, being a human. He recognized the words, even though she added extra syllables, as if she’d sucked the words down her windpipe and divided them into their component parts before sending them back on achingly sweet vibrations formed from her full lips. As she sang, she plucked dry bits of moss from the grassy wall and disappeared around a corner.

He began to look for her after that. He’d catch sight of her hair first, because it rose above her. She carried a basket and a small set of silver tools, tweezers and scissors and a scoop, and he soon realized that he was jealous of them, for they were caressed by her dark fingers. He did a little searching and discovered that her job was to maintain the moss that kept the station’s gas balance in check. He petitioned Pung to let him change his lunch hour so that he might better align his schedule with hers. She didn’t always sing as she clipped and tugged and sprayed the furry walls, but the damage had been done. Irdl was smitten.

He squeezed in behind her on a gyro-shuttle. The shuttle was full, so the usual rules about personal space could be forgiven a little. He let one of his overhanging appendages rest so that the tip floated amongst her crown of wiry ringlets. She turned around, more inquisitive than annoyed.

“Excuse me.” He intoned the words with as much human inflection as his mandibles allowed, and retracted the arm. She nodded as if mollified and started to turn back. He added, hastily, “Your dreadlocks are lovely.”

“I don’t have dreadlocks.”

“Pl- Please forgive me. What do you call them, then? I am unfamiliar.” He winced inwardly at playing the alien card, at least so soon. He usually waited until he got them back to his hammock.

“It’s just my hair.” She gave her mane a little shake, and the flesh of her arms and the swell of her breasts shook where they were not confined by her cleensoot. She must have seen something in his gaze, although he couldn’t be sure what, or even hope, but she said, “You can touch it if you want.”

He did. Gently, using just the graspers of the lower set of arms, so as not to draw attention to the other passengers. He pulled one long ringlet, uncoiling it, feeling the strands slide apart and then together again, until she placed her hand, the flesh surprisingly hot, over his arm and returned it to his side. She turned away from him then, but he could see that her cheeks bulged and her white teeth showed. A human smile, a good sign.

“I’m Irdl. I work in the Interspecies Research and Discovery Lab.”

“Joolie.” She faced the back of the passenger’s head in front of her, giving him no encouragement to continue the conversation. But then, after a moment, she added, “We must have similar schedules because I see you a lot.”

Irdl’s pump filaments fluttered.

“Maybe we could have lunch sometime. Do you eat?”

He had to physically keep his mandibles from chattering. “Yes. I do. Tomorrow? In the commons?”

She looked up at him, over her shoulder. “You don’t eat people, do you?” He was glad that he’d taken that class in human interaction, or else he wouldn’t have been able to pick up on the idiomatic inflection known as teasing.

“I’m a vegetarian.”


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2016, 10:26:50 PM »

I haven't listened, yet, but I'm super excited to see Nicola Seaton-Clark narrating here!

Update:

I do love an alien story with alien aliens - we've discussed before how hard that is to pull off (I think in the Way of the Needle thread, and more recently, The Hunter Captain).

As always, it's difficult to really create sympathetic characters belonging to a truly different race with truly different culture based in a completely alien physiology. In this story, I actually felt like I related more to the troubles that Irdl had relating to Joolie; when she dropped social and cultural clues, I couldn't always understand her. I couldn't really tell at some places in the scenes with Joolie's father whether it was Irdl missing information or me!

Coincidentally, Invisibilia's episode this week explored Frames of Reference, focusing on a woman who didn't recognize emotion and social interplay until she participated in a neurology experiment that gave her a glimpse of what that is like. Listening to her story reminded me of Irdl, a bit.

« Last Edit: July 13, 2016, 08:01:18 PM by Tango Alpha Delta » Logged

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bounceswoosh
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2016, 05:50:04 PM »

That is not the ending I wanted. Also, biology is cruel.
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Maxilu
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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2016, 11:51:46 AM »

Wow. Kudos on a story that's both timely and poignant.

So, I'm asexual, and a bit surprised at how much this story about non-traditional love and sex touched me. I started crying at the line "There is more to life than making life", and didn't stop for the rest of the story.

This was a very human story. I think framing it as a love story between a human and an alien allowed Seaton-Clark to explore themes that would have seemed forced and trite had the cast been all human.

Like so many others, I've been in a free-fall lately, and clinging to whatever I can find that gives me hope. This story is one of those things. Well done, and thank you. And thank you, Alisdair for your commentary at the end. I needed this. I needed to remember that love is love is love is all you need.
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hwaffle
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2016, 12:07:33 PM »

Thought this one was going to go a way I wouldn't like but I ended up enjoying it anyway. Maybe just because the narrator is so darn good.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2016, 09:22:55 AM »

I thought this story felt a bit long, but by the end I was well immersed in it, and very sad at the tragic ending.  I like the portrayal of interspecies love for which consummation would be fatal (reminded me in that minor way of the excellent but short-lived TV series Pushing Daisies wherein there is a romance that can never allow physical touching--because if they touch she will become a corpse).
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Devoted135
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« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2016, 09:16:45 PM »

Oh man, this was such a good story. There was a bit of body horror in there for me with Irdl's physical struggles to not mate, followed by the reveal of his friend's fate after choosing to mate. Thankfully, that wasn't too much to turn me off from the poignant loss of Joolie. I remember that this was a particularly strong week across all the pods.
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esanderson
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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2017, 02:01:20 PM »

Narration was excellent. I loved the variation in voices given to the characters, particularly ones preserving the aliens cadence.
I wish I could see the text of this story. I'm curious as to the spelling of many of the alien words/names. I would have tried to use the word they referred to themselves as in place of "alien" above, but I don't know how to spell it.
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acpracht
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« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2017, 08:39:25 PM »

Narration was excellent. I loved the variation in voices given to the characters, particularly ones preserving the aliens cadence.
I wish I could see the text of this story. I'm curious as to the spelling of many of the alien words/names. I would have tried to use the word they referred to themselves as in place of "alien" above, but I don't know how to spell it.

Ask and you shall receive!

http://escapepod.org/2016/07/01/ep534-joolie-irdl/

Actually, we put up the text of all stories along with the audio post, for future reference. Smiley

-Adam
Producer
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