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Congratulations to the winners of the Podcastle flash fiction contest!

Author Topic: PC024: It Takes a Town  (Read 19465 times)

Loz

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Reply #25 on: September 17, 2008, 06:14:19 AM
Here's a solution to the 'which Podcast should it have been played in' conundrum; None of them. I don't know if it's my natural English cynicism coming up hard against American optimism but stories about American cranks who may have crazy ideas and a lack of technological knowledge but, in the end, wouldn'tyaknowit, are proved right often annoy me unless they are written a hell of a lot better than this.

I'm also rather insulted about the author's reasons for considering this 'fantasy' rather than 'science-fiction'. Didn't Steve deal with precisely this point in one of his intros a year or so back? I'm working through the first few years of EP on the discs, I'll keep an ear open and link if I come across it. Meanwhile, can we expect more Horror and Science-Fiction stories on Podcastle if the authors insist they are actually fantasy? I have nothing against either horror or sci-fi and I remember this discussion came up when Steve broadcast a rather horror-able story last Hallowe'en.



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #26 on: September 17, 2008, 03:34:19 PM
"Meanwhile, can we expect more Horror and Science-Fiction stories on Podcastle if the authors insist they are actually fantasy?"

You can if I like them enough and feel like accepting them.



Animite

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Reply #27 on: September 17, 2008, 06:26:50 PM
Quote
This reminded me a bit of some of Ray Bradbury's rocketship fiction.

I couldn't agree with you more. Despite the author's attempts to defend this tale, I couldn't help but think I was listening to the bizarro world version of "Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed," a story about another community on Mars with the fanatical resolve of building a rocket to get back to earth. The rocket in Bradbury's story was built in a farmer's barn and throughout most of the story many of the townsfolk were unconvinced that a rocket even needed to be built.

By the end both communities, either by decision or circumstance, stay right where they started though at least the people in the Pod Castle yarn actually managed to fire off a water heater into the final frontier. I wonder if they had anyone aboard that small craft? I hope they had the foresight pack plenty of tang and humdingers aboard if that were the case. 

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Listener

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Reply #28 on: September 17, 2008, 11:20:31 PM
Here's a solution to the 'which Podcast should it have been played in' conundrum; None of them. I don't know if it's my natural English cynicism coming up hard against American optimism but stories about American cranks who may have crazy ideas and a lack of technological knowledge but, in the end, wouldn'tyaknowit, are proved right often annoy me unless they are written a hell of a lot better than this.

Oh, I think the English filmmaker who made "Thunderpants" portrayed the English version of American crackpots very well. I mean, the film WAS about a kid who invents a machine to harness the power of farting to fly a small hovercraft, and then a rocketship.

 ;D

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

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Listener

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Reply #29 on: September 17, 2008, 11:24:11 PM
"Meanwhile, can we expect more Horror and Science-Fiction stories on Podcastle if the authors insist they are actually fantasy?"

You can if I like them enough and feel like accepting them.

I believe you [ustedes, not tu] can have genre-straddling fiction that really works. "Impossible Dreams" could be considered fantasy except that alternate-universe-not-in-ancient-times pieces tend to be classified as SF. "Brothers", which ran on Pseudopod, could be fantasy -- I didn't find it horrific, though I found it to be a great story.

I think a lot of people, myself included, can forgive a story with little fantasy content or one they feel is on the "wrong" podcast if it is strong in art and craft. I really liked "Wisteria" on PC, but I didn't feel it was fantasy enough, and while I loved "Moon Viewing at Shito Bridge", I though it would have worked better without any fantasy elements at all.

My uninformed guess is that more people are making such a fuss over this one because the story didn't work for them, for whatever reason.

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AlwaysBreaking

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Reply #30 on: September 18, 2008, 09:10:34 PM
I'm definitely with the "didn't work for me" group. I kept waiting for James Earl Jones and Kevin Costner to show up in VW bus.

I'm also with those that don't care much about the specific genre, as long as it's compelling. Water heaters launched from grain silos sounds compelling, if Mythbusters is involved. It wasn't compelling on Podcastle, and I would have been equally as disappointed to hear it on EscapePod.

That being said, the character development was good. I could clearly picture the people in my mind, even if the story was only so-so.



JoeFitz

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Reply #31 on: September 19, 2008, 11:39:32 PM
Count me on the "not my cup of tea" list. For most of the reasons enumerated above.

I understand where the author thinks it was going - but I agree with Anarkey that magic realism is not the appropriate moniker here. It's one thing to try and be genre-crossing, but magic realism is a fairly specific "type" with a fairly well-established set of conventions, tropes and themes. To my mind, the indicia of magic realism (though they vary) were not present in this story. In particular, the fantastic elements seemed to me purely a plot device.

And I'm sorry, but the cross-dressing hardware salesman seemed taken from central casting.

For what it's worth, I think that this story (for me) could be nicely polished in a writer's workshop into a decent play.



ryos

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Reply #32 on: September 21, 2008, 08:13:35 AM
I don't get it.

No, really. I felt like the story had a point, but it was lost on me.



cede

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Reply #33 on: September 21, 2008, 01:49:02 PM
having trouble focusing on the story, any possibility of an enhanced podcast so the long intros are skippable?



Chivalrybean

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Reply #34 on: September 22, 2008, 02:00:15 PM
Just for you, Chivalrybean:



Sahweet!!! Thanks! Glad I rechecked the thread finally! {:0)

I think I need a new desktop image, too...

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Chivalrybean

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Reply #35 on: September 22, 2008, 02:02:56 PM
I believe you guys are underestimating the rocket potential of the home water heater. Please consider the following: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu3FwgIHsQA

I was just implying that space is really cold {:0)

The Space Turtle - News that didn't happen, stories to entertain.


Windup

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Reply #36 on: September 25, 2008, 01:27:15 AM
As a native Iowan, son of a pig farmer, graduate of a rural Midwestern school system and employee of an agricultural company who deals with residents of small towns on an almost-daily basis, my main observation is that Stephen V. Ramey got the details completely, totally, and utterly wrong.

I'll skip over most of the innumerable technical howlers -- like the fact that silos are not made from corrigated metal, American pork is not subsidized and never has been, and that the grain in a corn plant comes from the ear, not the tassel -- and focus on the fact that the relationships described just didn't make sense, and the people weren't even vaguely real.  Most obvious example:  Can you imagine anyone with a struggling, labor-intensive business who has nothing better to do all day than drive around town with no apparent purpose other than to encounter people at random?   I can't, either.  And does anyone you know say things like, "Oh Thomas, don't let your pain stand in the way of what you know is right?"  Me neither. And believe it or not, hog farmers actually do know enough to clean up before going into a pharmacy. 

I guess I am getting a genuine dramatic experience from this, because I think I'm getting my head around how people who actually live in the inner city feel when some clueless suburban putz tries to write about their lives based on watching some bad TV shows. 

In other issues, I thought this piece had way too many characters for a story of this length, especially in audio.  So many people blew in and out of the story so fast, I had trouble keeping them straight, and didn't feel like I got any resolution on any of them.  The ending felt like a wierd, heavy-handed analogy between the success of the rocket (or at least, firing the second stage) and the potential success of restoring the pig farmer's marriage.  And as for the whole, "you've got to believe" business, all I have to say is: "Oh, please. Not that again."  It's really so much more complicated than that, and being able to wrestle with that complexity is the sort of thing I expect from good-quality fiction.

Now excuse me, I have to scrape the pig-crap off my shoes and go participate in a Colorful Local Festival.

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


eytanz

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Reply #37 on: September 25, 2008, 01:35:37 AM
I don't know a lot about space, and I know even less about farming. So I'll just say - I enjoyed this story. I didn't find it believable, but I found it very appealing.



Unblinking

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Reply #38 on: January 06, 2010, 07:46:27 PM
This story bothered me on so many levels.  Uh-oh, I feel a rant coming on...

First and foremost, I have to absolutely agree with Windup about all the details of small-town life being bass-ackwards.  I've lived on a farm, though we just rented the house on the property and did not actually do the farmwork, and none of the details or people seemed real.  Sort of how it would turn out if I wrote a story about living in the inner city.  Every detail would be wrong and anyone who's actually lived there would be able to spot it.

Second, the cross-dresser was used simply as a hook to draw readers into the story, and then never mentioned again.  If the story had been about the cross-dresser, or even if the cross-dresser had played some important role, that would've been cool, but that wasn't the case.  The first paragraphs had only one semi-interesting point, and that was that the dude was wearing ladies clothing.  So I assumed that this would be important or at least relevant at some point, but nope, not even slightly.  So instead of helping me understand the POV of a cross-dresser, this story just cheapens the whole lifestyle.  Sort of like the old gag hook "SEX!!  Now that I have your attention <insert something here that's boring and has nothing to do with sex>".

There were so many characters that we didn't get to settle with any of them.  The only one we stuck with was completely uninteresting.  He was the only one who was even remotely sane, but that seemed to be his only distinguishing characteristic.

I do find it odd to classify this as fantasy simply because the pseudoscience used is ludicrous, but that alone isn't a huge deal to me.  I'm listening to all 3 casts anyway, so it doesn't make that much difference if the subject material gets blurred a bit.

But most of all, the message that was beaten over my head was totally bogus!  "All we need is hope.  If we keep our optimism and band together we can accomplish anything."  Blech.  This message could be true to a certain extent for some goals.  For instance, if their goal had been to create legislation for <insert political issue here>, then by doing a big weird project they might get some TV interviews, which would further their cause, create public awareness, etc...  But when the goal is to settle Mars?  Simply banding together is not enough.

The problem is, nothing in the story suggested that ANY of it would be remotely plausible.  As far as I could tell, this was still intended to be our world, so until I see otherwise, our laws of science must be in play.  You're not going to get anything into space that way without huge amounts of highly combustible fuel.  Where did they get the jet fuel to fill the silo?  How could they afford it or transport it?  No idea.  How did they keep the silo from breaking apart the moment it left the ground?  Silos are NOT built to be mobile.  What did they use for heat shielding?  Nothing, apparently.  Where did they get the money for all of this?  Apparently out of thin air.  Yes, they were having fundraisers for it, but all of the fundraisers were LOCAL in a small town which seemed to have very little resources.  There is a finite amount of money and resources in a sparsely populated area like that, and all fundraising does is group the small amount of money into one place, it doesn't CREATE more money, unless someone's printing counterfeit bills.

But let's say the town actually gets all of this stuff together, pools their very last dollars together to do it.  Then what happens?  Then it would fail spectacularly, because they have no frigging clue what they're doing.  This is their first try, and there's no way anything of this magnitude could be successful on the first try, and they couldn't possibly have money for another try.  So to me, the real ending occurs when the whole thing blows up, probably demolishing the farm, maybe part of the town and killing most of the townspeople, and leaving all of them penniless and hopeless.  And then the pig farmer can say "I told you so" but I doubt it will make him feel any better.  So the moral of "we need something to band together for" falls flat when it's clear from the beginning that they will be worse off in EVERY way by undertaking such an endeavor.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to take off my ranting hat and band together the locals so that I can create a rift in the earth below our city that will allow us to meet the race of dwarfs living down there.  I hear they have gold, and that could be the thing to fix our damaged economy!  There's a teeny-tiny possibility that the seismic activity will kill millions of people, but if we all stay positive I'm sure it will turn out for the best.