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Author Topic: EP543: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Love, Death  (Read 685 times)
eytanz
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« on: September 27, 2016, 05:03:48 AM »

EP543: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Love, Death

AUTHOR: Caroline M. Yoachim
NARRATOR: Nicola Seaton-Clark
HOST: Tina Connolly
---

Rock crushes scissors. Nicole sat on a crowded bus to Spokane, knitting a turquoise scarf. The gray-haired man sitting next to her stared obsessively at his wristwatch. He was travelling with his son, Andrew, who sat across the aisle. She offered to trade seats so they could sit together, but both men refused. The bus wound around the sharp curves of Stevens Pass, and Nicole made good progress on her scarf.

Out of nowhere, Andrew’s father grabbed her and shoved her across the aisle, into Andrew’s arms. There was a loud crack, and a roar like thunder. A boulder the size of a car slammed into the side of the bus. Nicole stared at the wall of stone that filled the space where her seat had been. The red handles of her scissors stuck out from underneath the rock, the blades crushed underneath. Andrew’s father was completely lost beneath the stone.

#

Love shreds paper. After the accident, Nicole met Andrew for coffee. She returned his father’s watch, which had somehow ended up in her jacket pocket, though she couldn’t figure out how or when he’d put it there. Andrew gave her a pair of red-handled scissors, identical to the pair she had lost. She invited him for Thanksgiving dinner with her parents, since he had no other family. They took a weekend trip to Spokane, and when the bus reached the site of the accident, they threw handfuls of flower petals out the window.

Andrew was an engineer and a poet. He built her a telescope that folded spacetime so she could see distant exoplanets, and he wrote her scientific love poems. At their wedding, they gave the guests bags of confetti made from shredded strips of his poems, so they could be showered in love.

#

Rock destroys love. Two years into her marriage, Nicole suspected Andrew was cheating. He stayed late at work, went out late with the guys, took weekend business trips. He was gone more than he was home, and he got angry when Nicole asked him about it. She already knew what she’d see when she followed him out to Beacon Rock, but she had to see it with her own eyes, if only from a distance. She was surprised to see him with an older woman, rather than a younger one. She filed for divorce, and he didn’t argue.

#

Scissors cut paper. A few years after the divorce, Nicole sat in the swing on her front porch and cut love poems and photographs into thin strips. It was her therapy, letting go of the memories she’d kept boxed up after Andrew moved out. There was something satisfying about the snip of the scissors. Words flew everywhere. Eternal. Heart. Devotion. True. Paper piled up on the porch, and a breeze sent a few strips swirling. It reminded her of the confetti at their wedding, and suddenly cutting paper wasn’t as satisfying. She hurled her scissors into the front yard.

#

Death steals scissors. Nicole went out into the yard the next morning to get her scissors. She didn’t want to run them over with the lawnmower later, and she wasn’t quite ready to let go of the first gift Andrew ever gave her. The poems were gone from her porch, and she couldn’t find the scissors in the yard, even after an hour crawling on her hands and knees. The common link between the poems and the scissors was Andrew. Had he taken them? Against her better judgment, she drove to his apartment. The door was open, and there were cops inside. Andrew was missing, and he’d left a note. A suicide note.

The body was never found. Neither were her scissors.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Frank Evans
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2016, 02:47:38 PM »

I love time travel stories. I don't care if it's JVD hunting down a corrupt senator in Timecop or something less explosion-y like Sound of My Voice, if time travel is an element I'm usually sold. I actually watched, and enjoyed, About Time starring Rachel McAdams and the stepdad who gets zombified in Shaun of the Dead (I'm sure he has a name. I'm too lazy to look it up). Which is why I found this particular episode somewhat disappointing. I think the female lead summed it up best when she referred to something as a "convoluted mess" about 3/4 through the story. She wasn't talking about the story, but she could have been. It felt needlessly complicated with an ending that was both predictable and basically spoiled by the halfway mark where the male lead is waiting in line at the bus stop with his future self and he mentions an old lady walking past him. Did anyone have any doubts at that point who that old lady was and how it was going to end?

The above paragraph notwithstanding, I thought there were things to like in this as well. The opening few paragraphs had me hooked, and this:

Quote
Two years into her marriage, Nicole suspected Andrew was cheating. He stayed late at work, went out late with the guys, took weekend business trips. He was gone more than he was home, and he got angry when Nicole asked him about it. She already knew what she’d see when she followed him out to Beacon Rock, but she had to see it with her own eyes, if only from a distance. She was surprised to see him with an older woman, rather than a younger one. She filed for divorce, and he didn’t argue.

left me strangely sad given that I'd only known the characters for 4 paragraphs at this point. The author did a good job of sketching out characters and a relationship I cared about with only a few sentences. I liked the POV switching and I'm very curious about what the singularity is in the future that's changed the world so much.

So, I dunno, there were elements in this that I liked but something about the whole didn't work for me. Curious to know what others thought.
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jbb123
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2016, 03:23:13 PM »

I had to turn it off - the mispronunciation of Spokane yanked me right out of the story. While I thought I could ignore it, there's a section between 10 minutes and 14 minutes where it is said over and over and over; it became too much of a distraction from the story.
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2016, 11:40:39 PM »

I'm not normally a big fan of time travel stories with that same enormous plot hole that I've complained about before... but I loved this one. Maybe it's just the love-conquers-death angle - "Love is stronger than death" is actually engraved inside my wedding ring. This story charmed the pants off me.
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DoWhileNot
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« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2016, 10:47:22 AM »

I really enjoyed the story - it reminded me a bit of "The Time Travelers Wife."

And while I noticed the mispronunciation of Spokane, it didn't bother me.  I'm from Washington and have heard people mispronouncing Washington town names my whole life... no big deal *grin*.  People from Washington even mispronounce Washington place names.  I always thought Pe Ell was pronounced, "Pay Ell," but it's really, "Pee Ell."

At least it wasn't Puyallup, Tulalip, Tshletshy, Skokomish, Mukilteo, or Nespelem or how about the Boistfort Valley, which is pronounced, "Baw Faw Valley."  Yay Washington.

« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 10:53:09 AM by DoWhileNot » Logged
Destron
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« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2016, 11:08:50 AM »

Hi, first time poster here, just recently found the podcast.

I have a confusion about this story, I hope I misunderstood and someone can help me with.

First, there is no reason given why Andrew would build a time machine to go back and save a woman he didn't know beyond a glance, but I can only assume that in the original meeting before older Andrew intervened they must have shared a moment before Nicole died that didn't occur because old Andrew was guiding events at this point.

However, the part that bothers me is this, when they are testing different probabilities of how to prevent Andrews death, he said that he was only able to build the time machine because one of Nicole's family members said something that made him realize how to build the time machine, and that only happened because she had invited him to Thanksgiving dinner thinking his father had just died.

So, the first time around, how did he build it then? Nicole would have died in the bus accident, thus he never would have went to that fateful Thanksgiving dinner.
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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2016, 10:05:36 PM »

I don't mean to gush, but I had kind of a rough week, and it really brightened up with these three voices in one podcast. Thank you to Caroline & Nicola, and to Tina for hosting!

@Destron - I think it depends partly on how you look at the causality of the thing, because if you look at the story arc as a single loop, the things that happen still happen because of another event in the loop. I think it would be more of a problem if Andrew had decided not to build the time machine, because then you would end up with two different loops - I think.

It also depends on how Andrew thinks, because I think his character was as interested in tinkering and seeing if he could build the time machine as he was into Nichole...at first. Once he knew her, of course, he was hooked; but I think he seems like the kind of person that would build a thing just because he thought he could.

Updated: I meant "into Nichole"... I think everyone knew that?
« Last Edit: October 06, 2016, 07:47:55 PM by Tango Alpha Delta » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2016, 09:47:13 AM »


It also depends on how Andrew thinks, because I think his character was as interested in tinkering and seeing if he could build the time machine as he was in Nichole...at first. Once he knew her, of course, he was hooked; but I think he seems like the kind of person that would build a thing just because he thought he could.


I recall this being explicitly identified that he was building it because he could. Like programmers who code on a pet project in their free time because they enjoy the creation and tinkering.
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« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2016, 09:05:09 AM »

I thought this was fun and heartfelt.  Also kindof confusing, but not in a bad way!  I like time travel stories, confusion and all.  I liked the different angles here and the theme of fighting so hard to save each other, and how it wasn't just a one-way thing.
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« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2016, 10:20:04 AM »

Yes what Unblinking said. Forgot to praise this one. This was like a well written episode of Doctor Who chugging along with clockwork precision.
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Father Beast
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« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2016, 06:27:05 AM »

Admittedly, Time Travel stories are also an easy hook for me, and the way this got especially convoluted was quite entertaining.

My only problem, and it isn't much of one, is that the characters (and there are only two of them) keep talking about changing things, and things end up staying just the same in every playthrough. It seems that the story is working from a consistent universe version of time travel (like in Timemaster), and the only way to effect anything is to do it in a way that doesn't change anything. In other words, it happened this way because it always happened this way.

The Rock, Paper Scissors, Lizard, Spock, err, Love, Death thing was interesting at the beginning, but I stopped caring as the timeline got more and more convoluted, which was way more interesting.

Oh, And I found it sad that she found him cheating on her with another woman, who was herself.

Good stuff!
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davidthygod
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« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2016, 03:57:00 PM »

I came in with low expectations, but this just got better and better. 
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« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2016, 10:41:42 PM »

I really enjoyed this one. It was hard going at times but worth the effort, and I think I followed it.


I was bothered by the same thing as Deston though - namely going back the first time around.

I might buy that Andrew would build a time machine for 'fun' and go back to save a girl he hardly met - though sacrificing his life for hers is a bit of an ask.

The problem is that one of the other possible plans is shot down because he has to be invited to dinner at Nichole's to give him an important idea for the time machine. First I can't see him being invited to dinner in his role as 'man who was on the same bus as our daughter when she died'; and second that the same bit of dialogue that occurred in a 'dinner with our daughter and her fiancee' loop around would still crop up, even if he was.
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