Author Topic: EP537: Honeycomb Girls  (Read 5415 times)

eytanz

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EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« on: August 12, 2016, 02:22:07 PM »
EP537: Honeycomb Girls

By Erin Cashier

read by Johnathan Danz

---

Those were the days Geo couldn’t walk through the market without stepping on someone else’s shoe. If money wasn’t tied to waist it was zipped, and anything dropped — paper, panks, crumbs — zipped too. Geo sold junk there: stripped wires, sharp green-squares, transistors like pills. “Someone junk, someone treasure!” Geo call. Men come over to see what Geo had, comb over findings, and Geo with stick, ready to slap at zippers. Stand all day, stand half night, then walk home to hard mat shared on second floor. Kick junk man out, eat food, sleep, till day begin again.
Geo hunt for junk at old places when junk run low. Sometimes old posters hidden from rain. Posters show things that not there. Happy men, metal cages. Men touching screens. Men smiling. Like said, old posters. No smiles now.
And sometimes, girls. Some cut out, but see where shape was left. Cut here, tear there. Reach out and feel where maybe curve had been. Hold nothing in hand. Imagine, if no one watching. Geo knew girls. There, but not there, like the sun, Never touch the sun, and never touch the girls, neither.

#

Jon yell, “Junk, junk!” Geo with stick, watching men come by. Man comes to table. Leans over. Clothing new. Business man? Tinker man? Jon’s boy watches man’s back. Makes sure no one else steal his money before Geo can.
Geo sees glint in man’s eye. He like something he see. Geo step forward. Geo like what Geo see. “You like?”
Man’s head bows. “No, no, nothing.”
Geo knows glint. Geo knows lie.
Man scans table, sniffs. “There’s nothing here. None of this is worth anything to me.”
Geo grunts.
“I’m an artist. I can maybe use this.” Man picks up three metal bits.
Geo grunts again, waits. Watches man’s hand reach for first thing he like. Glint-thing.
“And maybe this too. How much?”
Geo point to first pile. “Four panks.” Geo look at man clothing, hair, naked chin. Points to hand. “That, too expensive for you. Put down.”
“But –”
Geo hold up zip-stick. “Too pricey! Put down!”
Man’s eyes narrow. Geo offend him. He think he can afford all junk here, all table, all tent. But he do what Geo say, sets glint-thing down. Geo pick it up: round, metal, cold. Geo ask for most expensive thing Geo can think of. “Worth one night.”
Man’s eyes widen. Anger blaze. But he cannot steal from Geo here. Whole tent junk men watching. Under table, Jon step on Geo’s shoe.
Man lean over table, snatch ball from hand. “Done.”
Geo blinks.
“Go to the third tower two days from now. I’ll let them know you’re coming.” Holds up metal thing from pocket. Light flashes. Geo is blind.
When sight come back, man gone. Geo works, goes back home, lays on mat. Feels junk man’s fear. Should Geo have bargained harder?


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!

Jethro's belt

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2016, 09:07:47 PM »
It seemed like there was a story developing here but I couldn't get a third of the way through the barrage. I am guessing this would work far better in print.   

Anoton115

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2016, 03:48:11 PM »
I had mixed feelings about the decision to tell this tale using the colloquialisms that mimic Geo's mode of speech. On the one hand, it offered the story a distinct flavoring that it would otherwise have lacked. On the other, it was occasionally distracting and made it harder to follow. Overall, I think it may have been appropriate because it keeps us mindful to think in terms of Geo's POV.

What most stood out to me was that the Honeycomb men falsely project their own desires on everyone. And who doesn't start from the assumption everyone else is just like themselves? Since they are striving to restore their towers and factories and efficient pursuit of comforts from whatever apocalypse has befallen this world, they presume everyone envies their accomplishments.

Junk men, meanwhile, have arisen in the aftermath with simpler interests. "What better there?" Jon asks Geo as he stares at the tower, and Geo simply replies "food". Jon's easy answer to that: "Buy better food."

Day Three takes it for granted he is doing the junk men a favor by opening the tower to them and giving them an android girl. He presumes they want to live just like the Honeycomb men, because from his perspective, who wouldn't? But Geo is a junk man, and a junk man knows junk when he sees it. Perhaps this tale cautions us about assuming you know another person *too* well just because you know what you would want in their place.

DerangedMind

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2016, 03:36:43 PM »
I enjoyed the story, and felt that Geo's mode of speech helped the story, and helped to keep the 'sense of other' present.

The biggest problem that I had with the story was towards the end, when it was revealed that all workers were grown and bred to do their jobs, much like a bee-hive.  But, if that's the case, it seems that the ruling class should be exerting more control over the workers.  Perhaps the disaster that happened wiped out the ruling class, and the workers are just all running on autopilot. 

I'd like to see more from this world setting.

Arachnophile

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2016, 12:15:51 AM »
I had very mixed feelings about this one. Attempting a story in the voice of someone like Geo is a high-risk, high-reward gambit. When it works, you get Flowers for Algernon or The Dog Stars. When it doesn't, though, you can really crash and burn. When I was in the story I enjoyed this piece, but the voice pulled me out more than once. 

brunette666

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2016, 03:44:54 AM »
Hi everybody, new member and my first comment here. :)

I really enjoyed this story. At first I was turned off by the choice of writing in the voice of Geo. I think the issue was just that I was caught off guard, so it took me a while to adjust. It seems to me it would be more understandable if physically read, rather than heard. A quick skim through the first post has confirmed this for me personally.

The world built in this story is a big part of what kept me listening. I wanted to know more about it, and why/how things had come to be so. I found it very interesting. The detail about people being grown/bred (sorry, I forget exactly which word was used) for their respective positions kind of muddled the story for me. Didn't really make sense. There were several points at which I got a little lost, but overall it was an enjoyable listen.

3.5/5 for me. A big thank you to everyone involved in this production.

TheArchivist

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2016, 12:51:05 PM »
When it works, you get Flowers for Algernon or The Dog Stars.
Ah... that brought me up short. My instinctive reaction to this story was a blanket "Why why why do people insist on trying to tell stories in crappy pidgin FFS". I hadn't even thought of the analogy with "Flowers for Algernon"... which is, in truth, a sligthly different case because the voice is not a fake pidgin but a very authentic learning-difficulty voice (the lad who does our garden has some, so it's familiar). So...
Anyway, even taking those two examples as sufficiently similar, it feels like a case similar to what I've occasionally felt moved to tell a member of my local writers' group; that trying something Iain M Banks pulled off despite the potential problems is fine... if you're Iain M Banks.

Bottom line: this story didn't work for me, mostly because the voice grated too badly and threw me out too much, and I never did adjust because almost every time I'd almost got it, the voice seemed to slip and I was bounced back out again. It also pulled a lot of common tropes and didn't entirely seem to unify them coherently.

Maybe my expectations are just too high.

bounceswoosh

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2016, 01:49:47 PM »
Let me be the dissenting voice: I loved this story, top to bottom. The "pidgin" voice didn't bother me;  it just continued to underscore how different Geo is from the businessmen. How he's never been given a chance.

The horror of the few women of the world being kept as sex slaves who occasionally get pregnant, but don't even know what that means. And the fact that Geo is almost certainly correct that this is *still* likely better than what's out there in the world for her.

The lesser horror of the thankful Honeycomb man being killed in a misunderstanding.

*shiver*

What a brutal, sad, lovely story.

Unblinking

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2016, 02:58:16 PM »
I listened to the whole thing, hoping that I would settle into the voice of the story but I found I never got past that obstacle.  I don't think it's bad to base a story or dialog in non-textbook dialects, especially as tied into worldbuilding.  I think that I might digest this okay in text?  But I found that I was trying to examine the grammar structure and my biggest wasn't that the grammar was unfamiliar but that it wasn't self-consistent in certain respects.

The one that continually tripped me up was the "number" of the verb when using present tense (I think the "number" is how you refer to it anyway).  In textbook grammar, the "number" of a verb depends on whether the verb's subject is plural or singular.  i.e. David says, I say, you say, they say, we say, she says.  the "you" and "I" are special cases, and even though those special cases seem silly to me they are consistently used special cases.

Just from the excerpt in this post, the verb tenses just for "Geo" are back and forth.
Geo call
Geo hunt
Geo sees
Geo knows
Geo knows
Geo grunts
Geo look
Geo hold
Geo offend
Geo pick it up
Geo ask
Geo blinks
Geo works

I feel silly nitpicking about such a thing, and maybe it was intended to switch back and forth to show that consistent grammar rules are not important here?  Maybe there is a specific rule at play here that I am not understanding that dictates when one is used or another? 

Generally I'm not too worried about variations in grammar as long as I get what the words are trying to convey, but in this case I found the verb number alone to be so distracting I could follow almost none of the story.  I was constantly listening for the next "Geo <verb(s)>" construct to try to discern which verb number was correct, and when it went back and forth that was ALL I was hearing at all.


bounceswoosh

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2016, 04:03:06 PM »
I listened to the whole thing, hoping that I would settle into the voice of the story but I found I never got past that obstacle.  I don't think it's bad to base a story or dialog in non-textbook dialects, especially as tied into worldbuilding.  I think that I might digest this okay in text?  But I found that I was trying to examine the grammar structure and my biggest wasn't that the grammar was unfamiliar but that it wasn't self-consistent in certain respects.

The one that continually tripped me up was the "number" of the verb when using present tense (I think the "number" is how you refer to it anyway).  In textbook grammar, the "number" of a verb depends on whether the verb's subject is plural or singular.  i.e. David says, I say, you say, they say, we say, she says.  the "you" and "I" are special cases, and even though those special cases seem silly to me they are consistently used special cases.

Just from the excerpt in this post, the verb tenses just for "Geo" are back and forth.
Geo call
Geo hunt
Geo sees
Geo knows
Geo knows
Geo grunts
Geo look
Geo hold
Geo offend
Geo pick it up
Geo ask
Geo blinks
Geo works

I feel silly nitpicking about such a thing, and maybe it was intended to switch back and forth to show that consistent grammar rules are not important here?  Maybe there is a specific rule at play here that I am not understanding that dictates when one is used or another? 

Generally I'm not too worried about variations in grammar as long as I get what the words are trying to convey, but in this case I found the verb number alone to be so distracting I could follow almost none of the story.  I was constantly listening for the next "Geo <verb(s)>" construct to try to discern which verb number was correct, and when it went back and forth that was ALL I was hearing at all.



Just remember that you're writing *in English* about inconsistencies in a language. pot, kettle ;-)

Fenrix

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2016, 04:13:54 PM »
I listened to the whole thing, hoping that I would settle into the voice of the story but I found I never got past that obstacle.  I don't think it's bad to base a story or dialog in non-textbook dialects, especially as tied into worldbuilding.  I think that I might digest this okay in text?  But I found that I was trying to examine the grammar structure and my biggest wasn't that the grammar was unfamiliar but that it wasn't self-consistent in certain respects.

The one that continually tripped me up was the "number" of the verb when using present tense (I think the "number" is how you refer to it anyway).  In textbook grammar, the "number" of a verb depends on whether the verb's subject is plural or singular.  i.e. David says, I say, you say, they say, we say, she says.  the "you" and "I" are special cases, and even though those special cases seem silly to me they are consistently used special cases.

Just from the excerpt in this post, the verb tenses just for "Geo" are back and forth.
Geo call
Geo hunt
Geo sees
Geo knows
Geo knows
Geo grunts
Geo look
Geo hold
Geo offend
Geo pick it up
Geo ask
Geo blinks
Geo works

I feel silly nitpicking about such a thing, and maybe it was intended to switch back and forth to show that consistent grammar rules are not important here?  Maybe there is a specific rule at play here that I am not understanding that dictates when one is used or another? 

Generally I'm not too worried about variations in grammar as long as I get what the words are trying to convey, but in this case I found the verb number alone to be so distracting I could follow almost none of the story.  I was constantly listening for the next "Geo <verb(s)>" construct to try to discern which verb number was correct, and when it went back and forth that was ALL I was hearing at all.



Just remember that you're writing *in English* about inconsistencies in a language. pot, kettle ;-)

I'll jump in and say I spent a bunch of time thinking about this. I recently listened to a lecture about dialects of english that modify the grammar rules, including for example black english. One of the things that stuck out for me in that lecture was that while these dialects are wrong by the traditional rules, they remain internally consistent. Correctness is a perspective. They don't match the old rules, but they consistently follow new ones.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2016, 05:18:45 PM »
Just remember that you're writing *in English* about inconsistencies in a language. pot, kettle ;-)

Ha. Yeah. You'll note that I pointed out inconsistencies in English in my own post, but I thought I explained it well enough what I mean by inconsistencies in English in general vs. what was bugging me here.  i.e.  Although I think it's silly that I say "I say" and "you say" rather than "I says" and "you says" because those are exceptions to the general rule that singular subjects should have a matching verb.  But though it is a strange and pointless exception, it is one I don't have as much trouble with because I always say "I say" and everyone else I know says "I say".  We don't sometimes say "I say" and sometimes say "I says".  


ETA:  I think Fenrix put it well in that I expect an unfamiliar dialect to break traditional rules, but I still expect it to HAVE rules, and to follow them.  And when it didn't seem that was the case here I found it extremely distracting.  And, while maybe the author was going for some kind of theme or philosophical statement with that choice of self-inconsistent dialect, if that was the case I was so flummoxed by the choice that I completely missed whatever point was being made.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2016, 05:21:10 PM by Unblinking »

bounceswoosh

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2016, 05:25:47 PM »
Or maybe you don't understand the rules of that language ...

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2016, 07:33:43 PM »
Or maybe you don't understand the rules of that language ...

Yes. I wondered that as I was listening.  And found it hard to listen to the story for my focus on THAT EXACT POINT.  Was that not clear?

If you have a theory about how the dialect's grammar rules work if they're not inconsistent, I would be very interested in hearing that and we can talk about that.  I am familiar with the author, and I generally enjoy her work, and I find it  plausible she had something in mind that I didn't grasp.  If I had the slightest idea what that was I would be interested in talking about it, and then maybe I could listen again with that in mind and maybe it would help me get through to the story.  

Otherwise, I'd rather just bow out here--I have tried to spell out why I had trouble processing the story as written, and I feel like that effort isn't being returned.


« Last Edit: September 02, 2016, 07:40:01 PM by Unblinking »

bounceswoosh

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2016, 08:59:29 PM »
Or maybe you don't understand the rules of that language ...

Yes. I wondered that as I was listening.  And found it hard to listen to the story for my focus on THAT EXACT POINT.  Was that not clear?

If you have a theory about how the dialect's grammar rules work if they're not inconsistent, I would be very interested in hearing that and we can talk about that.  I am familiar with the author, and I generally enjoy her work, and I find it  plausible she had something in mind that I didn't grasp.  If I had the slightest idea what that was I would be interested in talking about it, and then maybe I could listen again with that in mind and maybe it would help me get through to the story. 

Otherwise, I'd rather just bow out here--I have tried to spell out why I had trouble processing the story as written, and I feel like that effort isn't being returned.

I guess we're talking past each other. I don't have any idea what the rules are, and I can't argue with the fact that you (and others) found the language distracting. I was just trying to make the point that languages don't have to follow rules that you can immediately inspect. And that English is an example of a language that has plenty of irregularities in verb conjugation that we just gloss over once we know the language. But all of the logical (if so) arguments in the world don't impact how you experience the story.

Fenrix

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2016, 02:30:07 PM »
I remembered the name of the lecture series:

A History of the English Language (Modern Scholar) by Michael D.C. Drout

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6396323-a-history-of-the-english-language

I checked it out from the library for free, and I think a bunch of these lecture series are on Audible. Professor Drout is pretty great, and if you like philology or literary analysis (or how the two meet with cultural evolution) I recommend his work.
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TheArchivist

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2016, 07:01:03 AM »
Yes. I wondered that as I was listening.  And found it hard to listen to the story for my focus on THAT EXACT POINT.  Was that not clear?
FWIW it was clear to me, but then it was also a much more developed and considered formulation of the problem I had than what I'd managed to intuit. Thank you.

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2016, 08:20:32 PM »
I guess we're talking past each other. I don't have any idea what the rules are, and I can't argue with the fact that you (and others) found the language distracting. I was just trying to make the point that languages don't have to follow rules that you can immediately inspect. And that English is an example of a language that has plenty of irregularities in verb conjugation that we just gloss over once we know the language. But all of the logical (if so) arguments in the world don't impact how you experience the story.

Fair enough! 

That's a reasonable point that not every language or dialect is going to be picked apart from casual observation.

On the other hand, it's a narrative choice to pick a dialect, and if the dialect makes the story too hard to parse then that becomes it's own problem and so may not have been a narrative choice that worked out.

I am also assuming that this isn't an existing, established dialect that was just being used in the story, in which case real-world existence of the dialect would trump any of my complaints about it.  I was guessing that it was a dialect made up for the story, and so making it hard to follow was a choice that could have been avoided with some consistency.


Also, bounceswoosh, sorry if I grumped hyperbolically in my last reply to you.  Thinking about the post afterward I kept thinking I was probably being more grumpy than the situation deserved and should've toned it down a bit, but I usually don't get onto the forum over the weekend so I didn't get back to read your reply until today... and I appreciate that you responded reasonably rather than escalate.  Sorry about that! 

bounceswoosh

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2016, 08:29:33 PM »
I guess we're talking past each other. I don't have any idea what the rules are, and I can't argue with the fact that you (and others) found the language distracting. I was just trying to make the point that languages don't have to follow rules that you can immediately inspect. And that English is an example of a language that has plenty of irregularities in verb conjugation that we just gloss over once we know the language. But all of the logical (if so) arguments in the world don't impact how you experience the story.

Fair enough! 

That's a reasonable point that not every language or dialect is going to be picked apart from casual observation.

On the other hand, it's a narrative choice to pick a dialect, and if the dialect makes the story too hard to parse then that becomes it's own problem and so may not have been a narrative choice that worked out.

I am also assuming that this isn't an existing, established dialect that was just being used in the story, in which case real-world existence of the dialect would trump any of my complaints about it.  I was guessing that it was a dialect made up for the story, and so making it hard to follow was a choice that could have been avoided with some consistency.


Also, bounceswoosh, sorry if I grumped hyperbolically in my last reply to you.  Thinking about the post afterward I kept thinking I was probably being more grumpy than the situation deserved and should've toned it down a bit, but I usually don't get onto the forum over the weekend so I didn't get back to read your reply until today... and I appreciate that you responded reasonably rather than escalate.  Sorry about that! 


No worries. It happens, and I was more "sad that you were bowing out of what I thought was an interesting discussion" than "mad that you didn't get it." One of the rare times my self-righteousness didn't blow past my good sense ;-)

bounceswoosh

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Re: EP537: Honeycomb Girls
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2016, 08:32:28 PM »
Hey, I don't think anyone has mentioned the point that while I don't think the title term "Honeycomb Girl(s)" was ever used in the story. I think the story only references "the honeycomb men." Thus I was primed to pay extra attention to the female character when she appeared. And the plural primed me to think of the bigger picture, not just the two we meet in the story. Deft work by the author.