Author Topic: EP134: Me and My Shadow  (Read 39931 times)

eytanz

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Reply #50 on: December 13, 2007, 09:21:33 AM

Would it be possible to mention in the intro when the story was written?

I've often wanted this.  I think the original publication date is relevant to my enjoyment of the stories.  Especially when they're "near future" SF, and that future is now upon us or past.  Or if the setting is "now" but that unspecified "now" is the 70's. 

And yes, I'm going to view the writing with a different eye it was a new idea at the time, even if it's been done to death today...

For me, that's the reason why I prefer not to get the publication date. I prefer my reading to be unadultrated by factors external to the story, including the context it was written in. That's not always true for all the literature I read, but it is true when my primary goal is entertainment, which is in turn the reason I listen to EP.

I much prefer to discover when the story was written after I've done reading it, so that that information plays a role in my thinking about the story, but not in my initial reaction to it.



Thaurismunths

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Reply #51 on: December 13, 2007, 05:21:04 PM
What I want to know is how does he know he's been erased?
Why didn't they just plant some fake memory of a life he never had and send him on his way?

How do you fight a bully that can un-make history?


Listener

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Reply #52 on: December 13, 2007, 07:00:23 PM
What I want to know is how does he know he's been erased?
Why didn't they just plant some fake memory of a life he never had and send him on his way?


"Total Recall"?

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qwints

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Reply #53 on: December 13, 2007, 07:52:36 PM

 I prefer my reading to be unadultrated by factors external to the story, including the context it was written in. That's not always true for all the literature I read, but it is true when my primary goal is entertainment, which is in turn the reason I listen to EP.

I much prefer to discover when the story was written after I've done reading it, so that that information plays a role in my thinking about the story, but not in my initial reaction to it.

I agree. I think our appreciation of literary works should not require looking outside the writing beyond the extent necessary to understand allusions to outside sources and events.

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Ocicat

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Reply #54 on: December 13, 2007, 10:18:10 PM
I think our appreciation of literary works should not require looking outside the writing beyond the extent necessary to understand allusions to outside sources and events.

Interesting.  I didn't expect that folks would be against mentioning the story publication date beforehand.  But so that this side discussion doesn't take over, I've created another discussion thread (and poll) over here.



Thaurismunths

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Reply #55 on: December 15, 2007, 01:40:51 PM
What I want to know is how does he know he's been erased?
Why didn't they just plant some fake memory of a life he never had and send him on his way?


"Total Recall"?

Yep. Good point.

How do you fight a bully that can un-make history?


Planish

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Reply #56 on: December 16, 2007, 02:18:53 AM
That's kind of what I was going for except I figured you had to be really bad to get erased.  I was trying to come up with something that was an erasable offense, but not murder.  I was also thinking about an arsonist who thought the building was empty, but there was really seven teenagers drinking beer.  That probably would have been a better example.
Up until the point where he turns out to suck in the use of guns, I thought that he was going to turn out to have been a Professional Good Guy (like a SWAT member) who accidentally killed a bus full of kids or something in the line of duty, and was so remorseful that he volunteered to be erased and made unrecognisable.

Cardboard cutout cliche's allowed you to add plot/emotional elements rapidly, without feeling the need to develop them.
I sort of agree with that. I like to think of them as "basic vocubulary" items that do not require definitions as soon as they are introduced. Like the Star Trek OS "red shirts", they serve the purpose of getting the story moving along. Spend too much time on fleshing out a character (especially one that is doomed on the next page anyway) and they risk becoming a kind of "Checkov's Gun", or else an unintended bit of misdirection.

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birdless

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Reply #57 on: May 15, 2008, 05:37:38 PM
Sorry to dig this one up from the grave, but I was just surfing around some of the older episode comment threads and was surprised that on this one no one suggested that the voice that was speaking to him was literally a separate entity (e.g. demon possession). To me, that was the "intentionally unanswered question" of the story. Was the voice a part of his subconscious or something completely separate? Anyway, just thought I'd throw it out there while we're waiting for EP 158.



eytanz

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Reply #58 on: May 15, 2008, 09:28:36 PM
Sorry to dig this one up from the grave, but I was just surfing around some of the older episode comment threads and was surprised that on this one no one suggested that the voice that was speaking to him was literally a separate entity (e.g. demon possession). To me, that was the "intentionally unanswered question" of the story. Was the voice a part of his subconscious or something completely separate? Anyway, just thought I'd throw it out there while we're waiting for EP 158.

I'm sorry, but I can't imagine that that is an intentional reading. A possible reading, certainly, and possibly an interesting one (not sure I'm convinced of that, since it implies a genre shift and a quite cliche'd one at that), but I don't think it's very likely to have been intended by Resnick. And Resnick's own comment earlier on this thread, while not conclusive, certainly does not sound like that was on his mind.



birdless

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Reply #59 on: May 15, 2008, 09:51:12 PM
Sorry to dig this one up from the grave, but I was just surfing around some of the older episode comment threads and was surprised that on this one no one suggested that the voice that was speaking to him was literally a separate entity (e.g. demon possession). To me, that was the "intentionally unanswered question" of the story. Was the voice a part of his subconscious or something completely separate? Anyway, just thought I'd throw it out there while we're waiting for EP 158.

I'm sorry, but I can't imagine that that is an intentional reading. A possible reading, certainly, and possibly an interesting one (not sure I'm convinced of that, since it implies a genre shift and a quite cliche'd one at that), but I don't think it's very likely to have been intended by Resnick. And Resnick's own comment earlier on this thread, while not conclusive, certainly does not sound like that was on his mind.
Unless, I'm reading you wrong, I'm not sure how that makes it a genre shift—it could be an extraterrestrial intelligence as easily as a metaphysical/spiritual one. The demon possession was just an example. And, while admittedly my knowledge may be limited compared to some others here, do you really think that concept is cliche'd? Done before, sure (maybe reminiscent of Fallen?), but, I dunno... seems like "cliche'd" may be a little strong. But as much as I love speculative fiction, like I said earlier: I'm not the most well-read in the genre. I feel relatively certain you speak with more authority here than I. Personally, though, the possession take on it made the story a little more creepy.

I'm not familiar with The Demolished Man, so any commentary that may have lent this story was missed by me.

<edit>
I also thought it may have been alluding to the soul: like this guy was just so evil is was rooted in his soul, and no measure of brainwashing would scour that out. Which, again, is a creepy thought to me.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2008, 09:53:19 PM by birdless »



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Reply #60 on: May 15, 2008, 10:06:52 PM
Well, initially, it sounds like it would become more of a Pseudopod episode than an Escape Pod episode.  I think the "demonic" element makes it more supernatural horror.  But even with an alien intelligence instead of a demonic one, I think it'd become more horror.  Body Snatchers, Puppet Masters, are more extremes, but I'm sure there's been episodes of the X-Files that have done similar things. 


birdless

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Reply #61 on: May 15, 2008, 11:51:57 PM
Ah, okay. I guess I can see that. I still haven't started listening to PP... I really need to do that.



eytanz

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Reply #62 on: May 16, 2008, 02:02:14 PM
Sorry to dig this one up from the grave, but I was just surfing around some of the older episode comment threads and was surprised that on this one no one suggested that the voice that was speaking to him was literally a separate entity (e.g. demon possession). To me, that was the "intentionally unanswered question" of the story. Was the voice a part of his subconscious or something completely separate? Anyway, just thought I'd throw it out there while we're waiting for EP 158.

I'm sorry, but I can't imagine that that is an intentional reading. A possible reading, certainly, and possibly an interesting one (not sure I'm convinced of that, since it implies a genre shift and a quite cliche'd one at that), but I don't think it's very likely to have been intended by Resnick. And Resnick's own comment earlier on this thread, while not conclusive, certainly does not sound like that was on his mind.
Unless, I'm reading you wrong, I'm not sure how that makes it a genre shift—it could be an extraterrestrial intelligence as easily as a metaphysical/spiritual one. The demon possession was just an example.

Genre shift was probably the wrong term to use. What I tried to say was that it would shift from a story about self-discovery to a story about succumbing to/dealing with external forces. That's a very different story.

Note that I do think it's a valid interpretation. I just think that, for all that this isn't a particularly good story, the "external force" interpretation suggests that it's a worse story.

Quote
And, while admittedly my knowledge may be limited compared to some others here, do you really think that concept is cliche'd? Done before, sure (maybe reminiscent of Fallen?), but, I dunno... seems like "cliche'd" may be a little strong.

Demonic possession stories are one of the oldest stories in Western and Eastern civilisation. Making it extra-terrestial is only meaningful if that influences the story; otherwise, it's just a minor flavor change (for a good example of a boring use of this trope, see last week's drabblecast (or maybe it was two weeks ago)). I'm certainly not saying that it can't be done in an interesting fashion, but "the voice in my head was an external malefactor" is not an interesting story in my opinion, and - in the context of this particular story - I can't see what more this interpretation would add.

But note that I'm simply showing my biases here - my objection that this is unlikely to be the author's intention was objective criticism, whether I was right or wrong, but the rest is just subjective criticism, and YMMV.



birdless

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Reply #63 on: May 16, 2008, 02:50:12 PM
Oh cool. I see what you mean now.



Unblinking

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Reply #64 on: March 11, 2010, 06:09:28 PM
Very cool idea, and the first half was really awesome.  The protagonist who doesn't know what he's done, but does know that he's done something terrible is an interesting dilemma.  In that situation, I'm not sure that I'd want to know what I'd done.  The whole point of the erasure procedure is to allow you to have a 2nd chance, making you a new person.  If I'd known I'd done something terrible, and my mind had already been erased, I think I'd just go ahead and give that a try.  Maybe I'd relapse, but at least I wouldn't seek out my own downfall.

But my interest level dropped substantially in the 2nd half.  Suddenly he goes from a concerned citizen frightened of his past, and then when he discovers a bit of his past he says "Killing sure is fun.  More please!"  Since the only thing that had leaked through up to that point was muscle memory stuff, to have the whole personality and large portions of memory suddenly come through didn't make sense within the context of the story.  And then he's able to call up his alternate person's skills on command, when before it had been an adrenaline/muscle memory thing--that was just too much.

What it comes down to was that the first half featured a protagonist who was conflicted, interesting, someone I could try to understand.  In the second half the protagonist was just a serial killer caricature.