Author Topic: EP581: That Game We Played During the War  (Read 6231 times)


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on: July 01, 2017, 12:34:28 PM
EP581: That Game We Played During the War

AUTHOR: Carrie Vaughn
NARRATOR: Amy H. Sturgis
HOST: Mur Lafferty


From the moment she left the train station, absolutely everybody stopped to look at Calla. They watched her walk across the plaza and up the steps of the Northward Military Hospital. In her dull gray uniform she was like a storm cloud moving among the khaki of the Gaantish soldiers and officials. The peace between their peoples was holding; seeing her should not have been such a shock. And yet, she might very well have been the first citizen of Enith to walk across this plaza without being a prisoner.

Calla wasn’t telepathic, but she could guess what every one of these Gaantish was thinking: What was she doing here? Well, since they were telepathic, they’d know the answer to that. They’d wonder all the same, but they’d know. It would be a comfort not to have to explain herself over and over again.

It was also something of a comfort not bothering to hide her fear. Technically, Enith and Gaant were no longer at war. That did not mean these people didn’t hate her for the uniform she wore. She didn’t think much of their uniforms either, and all the harm soldiers like these had done to her and those she loved. She couldn’t hide that, and so let the emotions slide right through her and away. She felt strangely light, entering the hospital lobby, and her smile was wry.

Some said Enith and Gaant were two sides of the same coin; they would never see eye to eye andwould always fight over the same spit of land between their two continents. But their differences were simple, one might say: only in their minds.

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!


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Reply #1 on: July 28, 2017, 12:37:29 AM
I know that this wasn't the point of the story, but the treatment of depression meant a lot to me. When I heard that Calla was sick I was expecting some exotic fever but when it was stated that she was depressed, that she was gravely ill, all I could think of was yes, it is a sickness, thank you so much for recognizing that. I really appreciated the descriptions of how she was unable to play chess because the illness made the game completely incomprehensible and she couldn't keep her mind on it. It's what happened to me with reading. I rely on audio fiction now. Thank you so much. So many stories get it wrong, and you getting it right made me cry.

"To understand a cat you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality."


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Reply #2 on: July 30, 2017, 12:27:31 AM
Since nobody else has said it, I guess I will:

I am SO curious about the spying stuff! We hear again and again that their "spying" must involve something radically subtle, yet that's all we ever learn. I was waiting for some devious twist, but there is no twist – which is part of the beauty. If there's spycraft here, it's being used for this very purpose we see in front of us. This chess game, and all the peace and understanding that stem from it, might just be the plan.

Escape Pod assistant editor, SFF author, neuroscientist.

Jethro's belt

  • Palmer
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Reply #3 on: August 02, 2017, 05:22:49 PM
I second the point that needed no big twist at some oblique angle, it was solid without one. 


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Reply #4 on: August 20, 2017, 01:02:24 PM
This was a fun story to listen to, I liked the explanation how one can only "not loose" against foe that knows your thoughts.
It was too short, lacked world building, but I guess that can be said about almost all short stories.

Narration was excellent.


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Reply #5 on: October 20, 2017, 06:32:33 PM
Here to second everything Mur said, and glad y'all ran this story! I enjoyed this a lot more than a number of other things on the Hugo shortlist.

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


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Reply #6 on: November 27, 2017, 07:18:41 PM
This enjoyable story explores the difficulties non-telepaths would experience when dealing with telepaths, and there is some creative extrapolation of what life would be like in a society of telepaths, where everyone's private thoughts are open for inspection. Particularly interesting is some speculation about how non-telepaths need to employ subtle, indirect strategies when dealing with telepaths in espionage and chess. No attempt is made to explain how telepathy that is apparently not mediated by technology is possible, leaving the story more in the realm of fantasy than sci-fi.

It's not the's the glory of the ride.


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Reply #7 on: December 13, 2017, 04:24:03 AM
I enjoyed this story a lot. I think it used the telepath/non-telepath interaction to tell the classic war-time prisoner story of how we are all the same, despite our differences. And the chess was an interesting aspect. Very nicely done.


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Reply #8 on: April 23, 2018, 01:34:25 PM
Wonderful story, with insights on power, mercy, gratitude, suffering,
and transcendence.

It made me wonder if our author has a long running chess match with someone, and they have learned each other's tricks, moods, and looks so well that it is akin to playing someone who knows your thoughts.

Loved the illustration of the  random act, the one unreasonable, unexpected  move that throws all the careful planning out the window, changing all the dynamics and relationships  on the board.  I had to laugh reading that,  recalling both the joy and frustration.