Author Topic: EP605: Straight Lines  (Read 5078 times)


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on: December 16, 2017, 04:44:55 PM
Escape Pod 605: Straight Lines

AUTHOR: Naru Sundar
NARRATOR: Summer Brooks
HOST: Mur Lafferty


This time they sent someone in a suit, neutral gray silk with utterly glorious creases, monofilament thin.

“I’m Xiao Quan-Fei. They said you like to call yourself Em?”

Emergent Behavior in full, but I always hated the pontificating tone in the name. Fucking shipwrights. Fucking irony too, but let’s not go there yet. Xiao doesn’t begin with questions. Not like the seven others before her, cold military men and women jumping into reconstructions and maps and comm chatter. Xiao is different. Xiao just sits there.

I’m allowed a tiny little virtual. It’s in the charter, as much as they like to snigger at it. It’s still a prison, still a cramped little low bandwidth room with none of the expansive feel of space and star outside my hull. Xiao sits in the rectangular plastifoam chair and examines the coffee table. There are books atop it, unlabelled, empty, just for show. Each spine aligns with the edge of the table, two centimeters from each side.

Fuck. She moved it. She moved one. Not on purpose. Almost by accident, or is it on purpose? I can’t tell. But now that spine is a touch off. I can feel it. I can feel the angular deviation down in my gullet, down in every algorithm-scribed bone of me. It’s Io all over again. I built this damn space for myself and now she comes and moves a book.

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!


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Reply #1 on: December 28, 2017, 07:27:03 AM
Yay!! I am caught up on my episodes.  ;D

I absolutely loved the concept of this! A ship AI with OCD. Too funny!!
I also felt the story was very well done. If you exchanged the ship for a person with OCD, things would have gone pretty much the same (except for the burning part - that would have to be replaced by some other kind of tantrum). That's not a criticism, that's the brilliant part of this story. As Mur said in the outro, they healed the ship with therapy rather than re-coding. And that was what was really, really cool!


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Reply #2 on: January 01, 2018, 02:12:10 AM
As I was listening, recoding was never an option because this was one of the brain-ships from Anne McCaffrey's world.  Of course they sent a therapist!   ;D  I loved this story, and it made me nostalgic for the brain-ships.  I'll have to go see if more were published since I'd last wandered their way.

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." A.Einstein

Jethro's belt

  • Palmer
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Reply #3 on: January 07, 2018, 02:04:40 AM
Great story, fine narration and much fun.


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Reply #4 on: January 08, 2018, 03:41:05 PM
OCD ship is a fantastic concept. How agonizing must it be to have all of these other senses.

"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 #5 on: January 09, 2018, 06:26:06 PM
I've heard friends and family members in the military say things to the effect of "Once you join, the military owns you." I do not believe that putting Em into therapy and learning to live with her disability was a choice made over reprogramming it. If they could have, they would have. I also believe that Em would have chosen to be "fixed" if it had a choice. It said that it was the mistake of a human that made it that way.
Disability does not play a significant role in my life so I can't speak to what I would want if it did. I think if we gain the capability to "fix" many disabilities in people, there would be a difference between older people who's sense of self has incorporated their disability and babies or children. I think most parents would opt to have their child "fixed."


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Reply #6 on: February 02, 2018, 03:53:53 PM
How I love this story! The pacing, the characters, the narration, Em's palpable frustration (with which I perhaps identify too much), the realistic treatment of OCD. This is definitely one that rewards a re-listen.