Author Topic: EP154: Union Dues - Freedom With a Small f  (Read 56209 times)

eclipse

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Reply #50 on: April 22, 2008, 07:49:31 PM
Quote from: Thaurismuths
I wonder if there's something going on stylistically and JR is being too subtle, or if it's a fault of the medium?

It's neither, at least as far as I am concerned.

i have to agree.
maybe i should have been more specific. i could say i learn about the union. but i don't CARE. i'm not interested in one more soul-smashing, beaurocratic, systemic manifestation of human mediocrity and incompetance....systemic evil is depressing, it's not educating. here lets see how many ways we can fail to organize in productive ways! ....no thanks, i'll take the liver and brussel sprouts instead, please.

now, make it a personal evil instead...then you've got my attention.

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« Last Edit: April 22, 2008, 08:26:58 PM by Heradel »



Peter Tupper

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Reply #51 on: April 22, 2008, 08:38:31 PM
I found this story confusing. Was the drinking, drugs and dyslexia part of her cover story, part of the "template"? If so, a drunk, coked-out dyslexic super-agile is not an effective crimefighter. (I half-expected that she was going completely paranoid when she thought the guys in the club were connected with the kidnapped baby.) Furthermore, if she is deep cover, why was there no emergency procedure for her to make contact, like a code word or secret 1-800 number?

I get the idea that the protagonist is getting screwed over by the organization she works for, but it seems so blatant and so pointless that I don't know why she doesn't quit. Unless that's part of her mind-control template too.

As a side note, I'm wondering about something I've noticed in the Union Dues stories, Mur Lafferty's Playing for Keeps, the Secret World anthologies and other prose versions of the superhero genre. The authors keep making their superhumans members of large, bureaucratic, state-sanctioned, hierarchical organizations, with lots of Silver Age trappings (skyscrapers, jets, etc). They're bureaucrats with superpowers, not superheroes, closer to Jack Bauer than Batman.

You can compare this with Neil Gaiman's Eternals for Marvel and Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory, both of which try to put the "hero" back in "superhero" by rejecting realism and investing characters with mythic significance and making them players in vast cosmic, Jack Kirby-based mythologies. What's lacking in the Union Dues stories and the other works cited above is that sensawonda, IMHO.



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Reply #52 on: April 22, 2008, 11:01:58 PM
Much like the books of Le Carre isn't James Bond, Union Dues is not Superman. 

I think the 'experiment' could be seen several ways.  Can an Union member live outside the system without revealing her abilities?   Would she still 'save the day' or keep her head down?  What is life really like on the outside?

Oh, is there a wiki or something about the Union Dues universe? 



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Reply #53 on: April 22, 2008, 11:25:13 PM
I think Jeffrey R. DeRego should get this story illustrated by Frank Miller.   I kept thinking of Nancy Callahan throughout.   

I should clarify:  That is high praise from me.   The last one or two Union Dues stories were nice, but didn't suck me in against my will, painting pictures in my head.   This one did, and I'm grateful.

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Thaurismunths

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Reply #54 on: April 23, 2008, 02:09:38 AM
Quote from: Thaurismuths
I wonder if there's something going on stylistically and JR is being too subtle, or if it's a fault of the medium?

It's neither, at least as far as I am concerned.

i have to agree.
maybe i should have been more specific. i could say i learn about the union. but i don't CARE. i'm not interested in one more soul-smashing, beaurocratic, systemic manifestation of human mediocrity and incompetance....systemic evil is depressing, it's not educating. here lets see how many ways we can fail to organize in productive ways! ....no thanks, i'll take the liver and brussel sprouts instead, please.

now, make it a personal evil instead...then you've got my attention.

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Old Man Parker

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Reply #55 on: April 23, 2008, 02:17:34 AM
The Best Union Dues story yet! Freakin awesome!

A stripper, with a heart of gold, super powers, and a drug habit, in a dark almost cyber-punk reality, who kicks ass?!?!? Does it get any better?

I think not!

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sirana

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Reply #56 on: April 23, 2008, 07:58:16 AM
I get the idea that the protagonist is getting screwed over by the organization she works for, but it seems so blatant and so pointless that I don't know why she doesn't quit. Unless that's part of her mind-control template too.

Because she would get sent to Antarctica if she did. To me that would be a hell of an incentive...



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Reply #57 on: April 23, 2008, 12:52:17 PM
I get the idea that the protagonist is getting screwed over by the organization she works for, but it seems so blatant and so pointless that I don't know why she doesn't quit. Unless that's part of her mind-control template too.

Because she would get sent to Antarctica if she did. To me that would be a hell of an incentive...

I'd find Antarctica (as described in the prior UD story; can't remember which) preferable by far to the life she was living.

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Reply #58 on: April 23, 2008, 01:01:56 PM
I get the idea that the protagonist is getting screwed over by the organization she works for, but it seems so blatant and so pointless that I don't know why she doesn't quit. Unless that's part of her mind-control template too.

Because she would get sent to Antarctica if she did. To me that would be a hell of an incentive...

I'd find Antarctica (as described in the prior UD story; can't remember which) preferable by far to the life she was living.

I'm not so sure.  I bet Union members have been drilled that The Village is a fate worse than death.



stePH

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Reply #59 on: April 23, 2008, 01:06:12 PM
I bet Union members have been drilled that The Village is a fate worse than death.

True ... only those who have been there know what it's like.  Most never return, and those who do aren't talking about it (or more likely spread misinformation).

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Reply #60 on: April 23, 2008, 05:44:59 PM
I bet Union members have been drilled that The Village is a fate worse than death.

True ... only those who have been there know what it's like.  Most never return, and those who do aren't talking about it (or more likely spread misinformation).

Wow.  I totally don't remember any of this.  I would love to hear a story about the Village insubordinate superheroes get sent to.  If that's not a story Jeffrey DeRego is working on, I hope he gets to it soon.  It sounds like more depressing superhero fun to me :)


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Reply #61 on: April 23, 2008, 05:47:57 PM
The villiage is discussed in some detail in "off white lies".



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Reply #62 on: April 23, 2008, 06:51:11 PM
this story wasn't all that bad.  i've only listened to one other UD story and i did enjoy that one as well.

what i didn't like about this story though was that it seemed to me that it was saying that if you are a female and left on your own without steady money from someone supporting you, you will become druggie/drunk/stripper.

too much stereotyping for me

thought at the same time, without having any background given for mrs juggs, it is fairly possible she may have reverted to a life that she was in when she joined the union to begin with.



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Reply #63 on: April 23, 2008, 06:58:36 PM
In the previous stories the Union has been an organization devoted to the preservation of liberty, justice and peace.  Perfect?  Hardly.  Many of the Union's policies seem to be necessary evils, and some of its actions have been disastrous mistakes, but up to this point the mistakes have been honest and the intentions pure.  The Union has struggled to do good in an evil world, and done a less-than-horrible job of it, all things considered.

Wow, we've been listening to different stories.  The Union has always been portrayed as an organization just trying to keep its place in the world.  Maybe they really did some good at some point in time, but now it's all about self-preservation.  There is a massive real world conterpart to that, but that would totally derail this thread.

Anyway, back to what I thought.  Whenever I comment on comic book type stuff, I feel I need to disclose that I never read any comic books.  Maybe that lets me look at these things differently.  

I loved it.  I like dark stories.  I don't need to like the major character or the organization.  I felt the same thing for her as I did for Kevin Spacey in American Beauty.  There was nothing to connect me to the character.  I spent my time saying, "don't do that."  But the story held me.  Kind of like a car crash, but in a good way.  



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Reply #64 on: April 23, 2008, 07:04:16 PM
what i didn't like about this story though was that it seemed to me that it was saying that if you are a female and left on your own without steady money from someone supporting you, you will become druggie/drunk/stripper.

She had no skills or education that would get her a job better than stocking shelves at a convienience store and that work is only part time.  It's a truism that a pretty girl can always walk into one of these bars with no experience and start dancing the next night.  And it pays well. 

There is a human cost though and it's a crappy environment.  Add to that the feeling that the only thing she has that is at all like a family has left her abandoned and it's easy to see how it could happen. 



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Reply #65 on: April 23, 2008, 07:06:11 PM
what i didn't like about this story though was that it seemed to me that it was saying that if you are a female and left on your own without steady money from someone supporting you, you will become druggie/drunk/stripper.

too much stereotyping for me
I would be very surprised if Mr Derego had intended the reader to generalise from this one character to all of womankind. It would be on the order of extrapolating from Lolita's Humbert Humbert to come to the conclusion that all men are paedophiles.

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Reply #66 on: April 23, 2008, 07:23:15 PM
In the previous stories the Union has been an organization devoted to the preservation of liberty, justice and peace.  Perfect?  Hardly.  Many of the Union's policies seem to be necessary evils, and some of its actions have been disastrous mistakes, but up to this point the mistakes have been honest and the intentions pure.  The Union has struggled to do good in an evil world, and done a less-than-horrible job of it, all things considered.

Wow, we've been listening to different stories.  The Union has always been portrayed as an organization just trying to keep its place in the world.  Maybe they really did some good at some point in time, but now it's all about self-preservation.  There is a massive real world conterpart to that, but that would totally derail this thread.

The Union can be seen as a villain.  But so could the public. 

The public sees a bunch of grandstanding costumed freaks running around.  Sure they save some people, but does the Union do anything about 'real world' problems like poverty, inequality, etc.   They perch themselves in their pyramids like gods who care little for their concerns.

The Union sees a bunch of spoiled ungrateful peasants who should be worshiping at their feet instead of complaining so damn much.  These heroes give up their families and their lives for duty and all they get is contempt.  Do the unwashed masses want uncontrolled super powered people doing whatever?

This 4 color universe may seem gray to some, but without gray any sort of variation in shade would be impossible.



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Reply #67 on: April 23, 2008, 10:52:43 PM
Whenever I comment on comic book type stuff, I feel I need to disclose that I never read any comic books.  Maybe that lets me look at these things differently.  

I loved it.  I like dark stories.  I don't need to like the major character or the organization.  

This is exactly how I feel about the Union Dues. I really enjoy stories that challenge the stereotypes of literature. Ergo, I really liked this story, much as I have liked all UD stories.


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Reply #68 on: April 24, 2008, 04:40:03 AM
I loved it.  I like dark stories.  I don't need to like the major character or the organization.  I felt the same thing for her as I did for Kevin Spacey in American Beauty.  There was nothing to connect me to the character.  I spent my time saying, "don't do that."  But the story held me.  Kind of like a car crash, but in a good way. 
Thanks, Nash—you described that perfectly.

I don't typically like dark stories, but, for some reason, the Unionverse (thanks Listener!) works for me. This didn't fail to disappoint. I was expecting something even darker, though, from Steve's intro (e.g. I thought she was going to accidentally kill the child).

I have to admit, though, like several others have mentioned, that there needs to be a conclusion to this series, where the Union is exposed for its evil. Otherwise these stories are just dark for the sake of being super hero avant garde.

I didn't understand the leap of logic Crimson made to know how the cop knew something, but I attributed it to either something I missed or some latent power of hers. It didn't bother me enough to take me out of the story, though.

The style and tone of the writing were vivid (can dark be vivid?). Very well done, I thought. And I agree with all of the praise for the narrator! She needs to do more!

Edit: sorry! I didn't mean to say "this didn't fail to disappoint!" I meant to say "this didn't disappoint!!"
« Last Edit: April 24, 2008, 05:24:16 PM by birdless »



jrderego

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Reply #69 on: April 24, 2008, 05:02:52 AM
...
I didn't understand the leap of logic Crimson made to know how the cop knew something, but I attributed it to either something I missed or some latent power of hers. It didn't bother me enough to take me out of the story, though.

She took a guess, literally.

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wakela

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Reply #70 on: April 24, 2008, 05:23:03 AM
I like the UD stories OK, and I liked this one OK.  But I feel that each story makes the same point as the last one.  I get it.  Being a superhero isn't like it is in the comic books.  The Union is a soulless, oppressive organization. 

The foundation has been laid.  Let's build something on it.



Do you guys prefer Unionverse or Duesiverse?



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Reply #71 on: April 24, 2008, 12:35:46 PM
I like the UD stories OK, and I liked this one OK.  But I feel that each story makes the same point as the last one.  I get it.  Being a superhero isn't like it is in the comic books.  The Union is a soulless, oppressive organization. 

The foundation has been laid.  Let's build something on it.

Do you guys prefer Unionverse or Duesiverse?

Duesiverse sounds like a place that still requires the Latin Mass and every story is resolved by "ex machina" :)

For my money, the strength of the Deregoverse is that the Union, while it is a "soulless, oppressive organization",  isn't "evil."  At least, Mr. Jeff doesn't go out of his way to paint it that way; instead, we are treated to a series of snap-shots of those who work in and around it.

But the Union itself is represented as exactly what it is: a group of fallible people with more power over others than they really ought to have.  It reminds me of my time in the Air Force; the officers are a bit on the zealous side, often lacking the competence to temper that zealotry.  The rules are reinforced by brainwashing techniques, and guidance that filters down from On High through a bureaucratic chain of fools, like a real-life game of "Telephone".

While this is annoying for those of us at the bottom of the org chain, it shouldn't be confused with evil.  I'm sure every critter splashed across the highway feels that the automobile that did the splashing is "evil", but automobiles are just big, dumb machines at the end of the day.  And, like the Union, the motivation of whoever is driving is the question at the heart of the conundrum... who are they?  what are their intentions?

As for relating to the characters, well... I suspect that Russell isn't telling us everything.  Take American Beauty, for example; I'm sure Russell was only telling Kevin Spacey's character "don't do that" AFTER the opening scene*, when he was likely saying, "Hey, I do that!"

*This is only funny if you've seen the movie.  Quote Spoiler: The opening scene shows Spacey's character, Lester, showering, with the voiceover: "Look at me, jerking off in the shower... This will be the high point of my day; it's all downhill from here."

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Reply #72 on: April 24, 2008, 03:24:47 PM
Do you guys prefer Unionverse or Duesiverse?
Unionverse. No contest. Duesiverse sounds too much like it's somewhere in Germany. Or a 1920's car?

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Reply #73 on: April 24, 2008, 03:34:42 PM
As for relating to the characters, well... I suspect that Russell isn't telling us everything.  Take American Beauty, for example; I'm sure Russell was only telling Kevin Spacey's character "don't do that" AFTER the opening scene*, when he was likely saying, "Hey, I do that!"

*This is only funny if you've seen the movie.  Quote Spoiler: The opening scene shows Spacey's character, Lester, showering, with the voiceover: "Look at me, jerking off in the shower... This will be the high point of my day; it's all downhill from here."

Spoiler response:I guess you repulse even yourself too much to do that. 



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Reply #74 on: April 24, 2008, 04:26:20 PM
I must be the only one who actually sees the Union as good, sure they do some bad things and a very flawed, but overall they do what is nessecary.

Anyways i liked the story and have enjoyed all the other Union Dues stories.

One thing i wondered about was the fact that the main character seemed to be dying for whatever reason, yet she was just sent on a new mission without it being mentioned, did i miss something?