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Author Topic: EP113: Ishmael in Love  (Read 29176 times)

eytanz

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Reply #50 on: July 13, 2007, 06:39:27 PM
The most interesting thing to me, though, is how people are pegging it as old-fashioned.  I strongly disagree with this point of view.  The tale was far ahead of its time, and is a testament to Silverberg's risk-taking.

The tale may well have been ahead of its time in the 1970s (which I doubt - I feel it would have been ahead of its time in the 1960s, but it's on par with a lot of 1970s literature I've read both stylistically and content-wise), but that doesn't mean it's not old-fashioned now.



FNH

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Reply #51 on: July 13, 2007, 06:39:43 PM
Episode comment : Story disappointing,  the guy reading was good  Who was he?.


Dex

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Reply #52 on: July 14, 2007, 12:51:55 AM
Episode comment : Story disappointing,  the guy reading was good  Who was he?.

I like your style.



startrek.steve

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Reply #53 on: July 15, 2007, 06:32:56 PM
well I for one, (maybe in a minority) really enjoyed the story. theres not a lot of dolphin SciFi around. if anybody else likes Dolphin Scifi round here. try reading King of the Sea by Robery Carlberg.
Steve



wakela

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Reply #54 on: July 15, 2007, 11:20:39 PM
I found myself wondering what the story would be like if it was a human who fell in love with a dolphin.  Not sure if this would have been better or worse or just different.

I thought this story was a little dated, too.  If I had read this story 20 years ago I probably would have found it more interesting.  The idea of a dolphin falling in love with a human through translation technology would have been a neat science fictiony idea and a commentary on how technology can facilitate such feelings, and how humans are not unique in feeling them.  But by the year 2007 we've all seen these ideas expressed so many times that it's no longer impressive.  So I think the story was good SF, but has become weak SF.

For the story to satisfy today I would expect the dolphin to act more like a dolphin, and not like an arrogant human.   Maybe instead of boning a dolphin hottie to express his frustration he would beat the crap out of a lower male dolphin to show what a desirable stud he was.   

I am loathe to rekindle the SF / not SF debate, but I have found it useful to consider a story's SFness not as an on/off characteristic, but one of degree.  Some stories are more SF than others.  Also, a story can be a good story, but bad SF, like a person can be basically good while being a bad spouse or a bad worker.




Dex

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Reply #55 on: July 16, 2007, 02:50:05 AM
I thought this story was a little dated, too.  If I had read this story 20 years ago I probably would have found it more interesting.  The idea of a dolphin falling in love with a human through translation technology would have been a neat science fictiony idea and a commentary on how technology can facilitate such feelings, and how humans are not unique in feeling them.  But by the year 2007 we've all seen these ideas expressed so many times that it's no longer impressive.  So I think the story was good SF, but has become weak SF.

We humans and our knowlege base was not that much different from today.  This would have been a disapointing story in 1987 also.



wakela

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Reply #56 on: July 16, 2007, 03:23:10 AM
Quote
Quote
Quote from: wakela on Today at 06:20:39 PM
I thought this story was a little dated, too.  If I had read this story 20 years ago I probably would have found it more interesting.  The idea of a dolphin falling in love with a human through translation technology would have been a neat science fictiony idea and a commentary on how technology can facilitate such feelings, and how humans are not unique in feeling them.  But by the year 2007 we've all seen these ideas expressed so many times that it's no longer impressive.  So I think the story was good SF, but has become weak SF.

We humans and our knowlege base was not that much different from today.  This would have been a disapointing story in 1987 also.

Actually, I think you're right.  David Brin's Startide Rising was published in 1984 and had a far more interesting treatment of dolphin psychology and human/dolphin interaction. 



DanK

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Reply #57 on: July 16, 2007, 05:44:36 AM
Um.

I happen to be kind of interested in dolphins.  Especially in the ways that they aren't like humans, and aren't at all like the cute, playful, children that humans like to think of them as.  Of course, this story was written in the 70s, so it's certainly not the writer's fault.  But there were still some places where it was difficult for me not to laugh out loud.  Keep in mind I'm no expert, so dolphin lovers should check my facts before being too horrified.

Ishmael was offended by "temporary mating," and felt "protective, chivalrous, sexual emotions."

Among dolphins, sex could be called a form of greeting, like shaking hands.  And rape is somewhat commonplace.



Russell Nash

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Reply #58 on: July 16, 2007, 10:53:15 AM
And rape is somewhat commonplace.

From what I've heard it's actually more of the norm.  Gang rapes, one raper and four+ assistants to help corner her, is far more common than consenual mating. 

The story struck me as more of a kid stuck in a dolphins body.  The thinking was far too human.  I think it's an example of the arrogance of man, that as soon as something can show its intelligence to be at our level, it also has to have all of our emotional insecurities.



VBurn

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Reply #59 on: July 16, 2007, 12:44:26 PM
Did anybody else think of the King of the Hill episode where Hank wins a chance to swim with a dolphins and ends up getting raped by the dolphin?  I have also heard storys (urban ledgends?) of fisherman wearing rubber waders getting attacked by horny male dolphins in Flordia. 



Russell Nash

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Reply #60 on: July 16, 2007, 01:05:49 PM
Did anybody else think of the King of the Hill episode where Hank wins a chance to swim with a dolphins and ends up getting raped by the dolphin?  I have also heard storys (urban ledgends?) of fisherman wearing rubber waders getting attacked by horny male dolphins in Flordia. 

**Swiftly puts on Moderator hat**

This could be funny as hell folks, but let's be tactful.



ClintMemo

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Reply #61 on: July 17, 2007, 11:40:40 AM

Life is a multiple choice test. Unfortunately, the answers are not provided.  You have to go and find them before picking the best one.


ajames

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Reply #62 on: July 18, 2007, 11:42:38 PM

Looks like I'm in the minority here, but I enjoyed this story.  I'm not sure how much more I'll think about it, it didn't change the way I think about myself or the world, it didn't inspire me to write something or express myself in some creative outlet, I don't wish I had written it, and it didn't impress me greatly in any way I can communicate to others, but I'll take simple enjoyment sometimes, too.  There are some days, in fact, when I prefer it.



Roney

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Reply #63 on: July 20, 2007, 10:24:39 PM
Looks like I'm in the minority here, but I enjoyed this story.

I'll join that minority.  I thought that (like the following episode 114: Cloud Dragon Skies) the narrator's voice was really strong and that the story worked well in audio, however dated some elements might be.  I particularly liked the honesty of the narrator's tone, with no false modesty and no boastfulness, just a simple recounting of how he sees himself.  The fact that he has a very high opinion of himself means that his impartial pronouncements about his greatness grate horribly, and that lack of self-awareness makes it a very unusual voice.  Ishmael sounds genuinely non-human.

My biggest complaint was that it had an essay structure rather than a story structure.  Ishmael announces what he intends to demonstrate, details his argument, then reiterates his conclusion.  I'm a sucker for this structure when the middle section makes the reader re-evaluate their assumptions (through additional information or an unreliable narrator), so that the conclusion uses similar phrasing to the introduction but the reader understands something different by it.  It's a great way of incorporating a twist so that it's not a cheap punchline.  But when the introduction-argument-conclusion form is played as straight as it was in "Ishmael in Love" it just sucks dramatic tension out of the story.



Reggie

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Reply #64 on: July 22, 2007, 01:01:59 AM
I joined this thread late, so I will not get too deep into what was good or bad about the story...truth be told, since I just started listening to this show on Monday, I'm still a little overwhelmed by how amazing it is to have a podcast and community such as this to be part of...so..that being said, I enjoyed the story well enough....I pretty much like listening to all the stories, because I do so at work and they help keep my day from dragging...

Anyway, with all the talk about animal shows and people talking to animals and animal workers and whatnot, it seems to me that everyone is leaving out Darwin from Seaquest...that's what I was thinking of the whole time I was listening to the story....




Listener

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Reply #65 on: July 25, 2007, 12:38:08 PM
darusha:
Quote
It makes me strangely happy that more comments about this story are dissecting the details of the water plant than discussing the hot-chick-banging-a-dolphin angle.

I LOL'd when you said that.

Did anybody else think of the King of the Hill episode where Hank wins a chance to swim with a dolphins and ends up getting raped by the dolphin? 

Not until you said it, but I do remember it.

Among dolphins, sex could be called a form of greeting, like shaking hands. 

Didn't I read some Heinlein that treated sex similarly?  I've often felt that America places far too much weight on sex.  But that's another story for another thread.

***

I won't say I really liked this story, but I didn't hate it.  I too felt it was somewhat heavy-handed, and the narrator was very hard to like.  I could believe him, rely upon his opinions and his observations, but I thought he was an ass.

As a story written in the late 60s (I'm guessing) and published in 1970, I understand where Silverberg was coming from with all the talk about boobs... sorry, "milk glands"... but reading/hearing it nearly 40 years later (holy crap, it's really been that long, hasn't it) it just feels forced.  Differences in culture due to time, I suppose.

Given that Ishmael really thinks he knows so very much about love, he seems to have neglected cross-species/cross-cultural communication in his studies.  Had he not read any SF?  There's love in a lot of SF -- hell, didn't he watch any Star Trek spools? -- and yet he thinks that boinking the other dolphin in front of Lisabeth is going to work?  Humans on the whole (obviously the EP forum readers are not part of this group) seem to be incapable of thinking that any species other than ourselves is as intelligent as we are, except when we read it in sci-fi.  A truly-intelligent dolphin would've figured this out and known that, no matter how he felt about Lisabeth, she would never see him the way he really wanted to be seen.

Couched in the comments Eley made after the story, I can understand the point of it -- I've been that dolphin, too -- but I still don't think I took away from this story anything that Silverberg really intended.

I know Silverberg can write cultural-sexual sci-fi plenty well -- I rather enjoyed "The World Inside", even if by today's standards it's a tad ham-handed -- but this story just didn't do it for me.

As for the reading, Eley's readings are always capable and thorough, but because we know so much about him due to intros, outros, and forum posts, I feel influenced by what I know about him from his public persona.  I don't read (ie) Jonathan Sullivan's blog, so all I know about him is what I heard in the intro, and that wasn't enough to form an opinion beyond "okay, this dude has a medical background, so he'll probably get all the words right".

I think this is a common problem when people give their writing to their friends.  I write, among other things, erotica.  I have a friend, John, who enjoys erotica.  But he has trouble reading mine -- I value his opinion on my writing, and he has given it on my SF, Fantasy, Tech, and General Fiction -- because he knows me personally.  Another example: my best friend Yoshi says he loves my novel, but I know it's a piece of crap -- it was self-published by PublishAmerica (before I knew what a waste of time they were), it had no good editing, it had plot holes they wouldn't let me fix (that got left in because I didn't have an editor), it rambled, it had cliches up the wazoo... I've grown a lot as a writer since then.  But Yoshi still says he loves the book.  I allow him to do so -- maybe he honestly does -- but if I showed to anyone on these forums, I'm pretty sure the response would be "has potential, but needs a lot of work". 

So, in short, when people tell us stories, we are influenced by our knowledge of the reader.  That's why I prefer when stories are read by people who aren't Steve Eley, even though he's a very good reader, even if I have no idea who the reader is or why s/he has been chosen to read a story.  As long as the reader can perform the story well, it doesn't matter to me if it's a neurologist or a baseball writer, someone who participates in polyamory or someone who participates in fantasy football.  I just can't have gotten to know the writer as well as I've "gotten to know" Eley.  (No offense intended with any of this, of course.)

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SFEley

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Reply #66 on: July 25, 2007, 11:44:50 PM
So, in short, when people tell us stories, we are influenced by our knowledge of the reader.  That's why I prefer when stories are read by people who aren't Steve Eley, even though he's a very good reader, even if I have no idea who the reader is or why s/he has been chosen to read a story.  As long as the reader can perform the story well, it doesn't matter to me if it's a neurologist or a baseball writer, someone who participates in polyamory or someone who participates in fantasy football.  I just can't have gotten to know the writer as well as I've "gotten to know" Eley.  (No offense intended with any of this, of course.)

This is fascinating.  I'm not offended at all by it; it's a really interesting perspective.  I think it's likely you'll have to keep putting up with stories read by me anyway -- it's one of the things that keeps me enjoying the podcast enough to keep doing it.    But I had no idea that my simply being Steve Eley and revealing things about me would affect the perception of the story for some people.  I hope it's not too much of a distraction too much of the time.
 
Thanks for sharing, Ye With the Minimally Revealing Handle.  >8->

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bolddeceiver

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Reply #67 on: September 10, 2007, 09:01:27 AM
I listened to this a few weeks ago when I discovered the podcast, and was too underwhelmed to post anything about it then, but I've been making my way through the archives, and just listened to Barnaby in Exile.  The contrast between the two strikes me as a powerful example of the importance of execution.  Both took a pretty well-trod general idea (story narrated by nonhuman sentient terrestrial species), and yet, even if "it's all been done," which seems to have been the major criticism of this story in the forum discussion, that it could be done again in one case so that it could bring me to tears and in another so that I'm left totally flat shows how little the freshness of the idea itself can sometimes mean in comparison to the way the idea is explored.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2007, 09:04:30 AM by bolddeceiver »



Myrealana

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Reply #68 on: September 28, 2007, 06:29:30 PM
This was definately not one of my favorites so far.

In the beginning, the dolphin narrator was fun, but it went on for too long. I realized from very early that the woman was never going to understand and from that point, it was just a formality to listen to the whole thing.

I can't put my finger on it, but several people here have made points that to some extent or another reflect my viewpoint - the "noble savage" the time spent on sexual themes and other things.

Still, better than a kick in the head! ;)

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Unblinking

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Reply #69 on: October 05, 2010, 01:59:10 PM
I didn't care for this one.  I'm not opposed to intelligent animal stories, but there are much better examples than this one (like Barnaby in Exile).  The dolphin never seemed like anything but a human to me.  Like DKT, I thought that her swimming naked with the dolphin seemed out of place considering his confession of love to her.  And the use of dolphins to clean the pipes just didn't seem like it would actually be effective.