Author Topic: EP385: The Very Pulse of the Machine  (Read 14794 times)

Skycaptain1883

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Reply #25 on: March 10, 2013, 08:19:06 PM
I really liked the production -- robot voice and  a few sound effects (or was I hallucinating?). The story was gripping. I kept rooting for Martha to make it and we are left wondering -- did she?

Was Martha off the deep end? Had she discovered a new life form? Control didn't believe her when she reported the sulphur poppies so why would they believe her that Io is a big machine? However -- here's my main question:  Martha and team have been missing for 3 Ionian days, over 20 earth hours. Why didn't someone try to find them? I can easily believe a talking planet, but no search party? That's just ridiculous.  ::)

Skycaptain1883


Devoted135

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Reply #26 on: March 11, 2013, 02:55:18 PM
It took me a while to get to this story because try as I might, I simply could not listen and do something else at the same time. It demanded my full attention or left me in the dust. :D Once I did settle in and listen, I loved this story! I'm really impressed by how the author wedded the more hard SF elements with such a personal, intimate story. I'm still not sure that she should have gone for the volcano option rather than making for the ship and potential rescue, but then again I haven't been dragging my crewmate around a hallucinogenic, intelligent planet for a week so who am I to judge? ::)

I can totally see why Martha would have questioned whether she was hallucinating everything, and probably would have questioned it myself if I were in her suit. At the same time, from the reader's perspective it it pretty obvious that the voice is real and she has unwittingly made first contact. For me, her ambiguity and my certainty are not at odds with each other.




matweller

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Reply #27 on: March 11, 2013, 06:47:22 PM
I'm still not sure that she should have gone for the volcano option rather than making for the ship and potential rescue, but then again I haven't been dragging my crewmate around a hallucinogenic, intelligent planet for a week so who am I to judge? ::)

I think it could have been emphasized more strongly, but she didn't make for the ship because it was knocked over during one of the earthquakes and was probably destroyed even if she could get it upright again to launch, which she probably could not do, especially without the rover she killed in her initial accident.



Cutter McKay

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Reply #28 on: March 11, 2013, 08:00:42 PM
I'm still not sure that she should have gone for the volcano option rather than making for the ship and potential rescue, but then again I haven't been dragging my crewmate around a hallucinogenic, intelligent planet for a week so who am I to judge? ::)
See, this was my point.

I think it could have been emphasized more strongly, but she didn't make for the ship because it was knocked over during one of the earthquakes and was probably destroyed even if she could get it upright again to launch, which she probably could not do, especially without the rover she killed in her initial accident.

And the reason I don't like this explanation is because Hols was still out there. And presumably he would have more oxygen and supplies. Even if the ship did topple, and was damaged, she could get supplies, explain what was happening to him, and make a plan. If she then decided to go back to the volcano, she could. But to me, she abandoned her crewmate for too quick an escape. Which could imply insanity, yes.

But more to the point, I don't understand Hols role in the tale. He did nothing, served no purpose other than make me wonder why Martha betrayed him in the end and left him to die. I think he should have been removed from the story altogether.

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SF.Fangirl

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Reply #29 on: March 14, 2013, 02:17:41 AM
I am frustratingly apathetic about this one.  I like it.  I just wanted to like the story a lot more.  I should like it a lot more because it's up my alley as a very classic type of sci fi story ("A Walk in the Dark," vast alien intelligence in the solar system, first contact)   But I just didn't feel excited about it.  Hell, the plucky, smart, over-looked explorer should be a character I really liked.  Maybe part of the problem was her inferiority complex because the bronze medalist and astronaut explorer feeling sorry for herself because she didn't win gold and isn't the commander is pretty annoying.  And as others have mentioned the fact that she's oddly not at all excited about the possibility of alien life so I don't get excited listening to the story.



Lionman

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Reply #30 on: March 14, 2013, 06:44:45 AM
I really had a hard time getting into the idea that the character wouldn't abandon the body.  Granted, without the body, there wouldn't be much of a story here.  Seriously, though?  Were I in the same position, anything that wasn't necessary for survival, that would slow me down, it would be left well, well behind.  In situations like this, Margin is Life.  The more margin you have of air to get to where you're going, the more likely you are to live.

But, as I pointed out, there wouldn't be much of a story here without that one idea in the character trait.  She would have traveled faster, would have had more air, would have gotten back to the lander before the earthquake.  However, unless it was sufficiently quickly enough, she would have just died in the earthquake.

Failure is an event, not a person.


El Barto

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Reply #31 on: March 17, 2013, 05:53:51 PM
What a treat to have so many Escapodians to agree with here.

To start with, I agree completely with Frungi:  I couldn't get into to story because the voice right at the start wasn't described as "in her head" but was instead described as coming through the radio.  For her to not even ask "Who is transmitting on this frequency?" seemed weird.  (Related: Given that we Escapodians were treated to "radio" sound effects, I suspect that we as a group are more likely to fuss over this point than those who only read the story with their eyes.)

Also, as Chemistryguy said, " If the writing would have indicated a deterioration of her mental state  I would have bought it."  It just could not understand why she assumed the radio voice was a hallucination right from the very start –before she deterioriated from exhaustion, low oxygen, and intake of Meth.

Also, Lionman nailed it on the issue of leaving the body of her friend behind.  She's in a life or death struggle to make it to her lander with maybe not enough oxygen to make it and she chooses to use much of it on dragging  a body?   Why not leave it, save herself, and come back for it later?

As for my original thoughts, I'll be the first to say here that I thought the machine was lying at the end about not knowing about the earthquake.   I think it caused the earthquake and destroyed the lander on purpose because it was desperately lonely and wanted her to stay forever.  Just like V'ger.

Also, as a pilot who practices using dead reckoning for Earth atmosphere navigation, I thought it was ridiculous that she could get "off course" by three miles in a life or death situation when she had the ability to bring up a georeferenced map showing her location at any moment. 

Lastly, I've got to say that I have come to love Nathan's feedback segments.  This one was especially clever and interesting.  Kudos!



CryptoMe

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Reply #32 on: March 29, 2013, 06:03:46 AM
I agree with Frunji. It was painfully obvious to *me* that this was first contact, so the character's slowness on the uptake was annoying.

Other than that, I did enjoy the story, the sound effects, and the philosophizing.



Frungi

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Reply #33 on: March 30, 2013, 05:31:34 AM
I believe I’ve failed to mention that I loved everything about this story except for the main character. As I’ve said, she honestly kind of ruined it for me, being such a big part of the story. But I wholeheartedly agree with all the comments praising the reader, the sound design, the philosophy and science, and so on. Like I really love how the “Click.” in the text was replaced with a radio noise. The character’s denseness was just too hard for me to get around and really enjoy everything else. But kudos to the author for everything around the main character, and kudos to everyone at EA for everything involved in producing it, and I’m sorry for harping so much without saying this sooner.

To those asking why there were so few people on the mission: How many were on the spaceship that went to our moon? This was scientific exploration, not colonization. As for the fate of Hols, I presume he was able to break orbit and head home when it was clear Martha wouldn’t be coming back. Don’t see why he wouldn’t have been able to leave.



Gamercow

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Reply #34 on: April 01, 2013, 07:27:07 PM
Some items:

1) My favorite part was Kivelsen mentioned that she "wanted to make a big nose; the biggest noise" and as it turns out, she did.  She made the strongest transmission ever known by man.  For me, it didn't matter what happened to her after that.  She had completed her lifelong quest, even if she didn't realize it.

2) I was skeptical about the reality/unreality of the Voice of Io until the crystalline bridge, and even after that, there was just enough of a shred of doubt.  If you've never been on hallucinogenic drugs, or have never gotten so tired/hot/cold/hungry that you start to hallucinate, it might seem impossible.  But the brain is weird, and can manifest hallucinations as coping mechanisms in very odd ways.

3) Hols could not have saved Martha.  Generally speaking, a landing pod detaches from the orbiter, and descends to the surface, landing on struts.  Given that the gravity of Io is very nearly the same as Luna, about 1/6 of Earth, I would imagine the landing would have been done in a very similar way.  My only complaint about the design is that Io is known to be very unstable, and the landing pod probably would have compensated for this.   Anyway, I digress.  The pod, when ready to leave, launches off the surface and reconnects with the orbiter, and they head home.  There's no way for the orbiter to land, and really no easy way to get more equipment down to the surface.  Even if a drop could have been made, what good would that have done Kivelsen?  Given her 8 more hours to suffer before a slow death? 

4) Lastly, amazing narration and production.  Just spot on all around.  The voice work to get in the proper emotional state was exquisite and the radio sounds/voices were superb.

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


lyda

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Reply #35 on: April 01, 2013, 10:34:46 PM
I'm still behind on episodes, but I did get to this one.

First, I really liked the narration on this one. Both the quality of the recording and the delivery were great.

For me I wasn't sure who the voice in the radio was. Was she cracking up? That seemed unlikely, if only from a story point of view, but it was clear she wasn't all there mentally. She was in a stressful situation and making poor choices.

Was there something on the planet that was reanimating her friend? There was a hole in her friend's suit and she pushed some material into it. Perhaps a life form was in that material and interacting with her friend's body.

Was it the planet? A bit fantastical, but there are signs in the landscape that it could be.

The cracking up idea seems like a plausible explanation for the character. Not for us, but for her it seems like a possible explanation. The bridge popping up is the point where it really loses credibility. Every time she questions the source of the voice after that seems like the nth time you check your pockets for your keys when you've lost them - where n is greater than 50. The other two seem more plausible for us as readers, less so for her. In fact any credence she gives to those is giving credence to the cracking up theory from her point of view.



Leslianne

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Reply #36 on: April 06, 2013, 11:00:31 PM
I loved the bejeesus out of this.



Peevester

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Reply #37 on: April 07, 2013, 01:25:46 AM
This one surprised me. I totally bought the idea that she was hearing voices in her own head from go-drugs and general panic, and I like how, even with the miracle at the lava river, it's not entirely clear that it isn't voices in her own head. Great story.



eytanz

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Reply #38 on: April 08, 2013, 08:25:42 PM
And the reason I don't like this explanation is because Hols was still out there. And presumably he would have more oxygen and supplies. Even if the ship did topple, and was damaged, she could get supplies, explain what was happening to him, and make a plan. If she then decided to go back to the volcano, she could. But to me, she abandoned her crewmate for too quick an escape. Which could imply insanity, yes.

But more to the point, I don't understand Hols role in the tale. He did nothing, served no purpose other than make me wonder why Martha betrayed him in the end and left him to die. I think he should have been removed from the story altogether.

I know it's a bit late, but I'm behind on the episodes - I think you did misunderstand Hols' role. He was not on the surface, he was in an orbiter. The ship that toppled was the lander, and it was her only way to get back to him. He was safe and could get back home, but she was cut off from him.

I don't think he really had much of a purpose to serve here except to highlight her social insecurities, and for plausibility - a two-person team where both people are on the lander is not very plausible.



Unblinking

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Reply #39 on: June 17, 2013, 01:53:49 PM
I enjoyed this.  Felt very classicky.  Enough ambiguity to keep it entertaining.  I think the most likely explanation is that she hallucinates the entire thing.  The bridge makes that waver a bit, but it can still work--it might've formed naturally by coincidence, it might've been there all along, or she might've just departed enough from reality by that time that maybe nothing happened it all.



Umbrageofsnow

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Reply #40 on: July 11, 2013, 09:21:38 PM
Catching up on the episodes, absolutely loved this one, 3rd favorite of this first half of the year!

The living planet idea is always interesting, but rarely handled well.  I liked it here.  I choose to believe that it really was alive, not the meth and exhaustion, but I'm much happier with the story leaving those possibilities open.

The signal at the end of this was absolutely chilling and a wonderful bit of audio production, by the way.  This one is an all-time classic for me.



hardware

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Reply #41 on: September 17, 2013, 07:58:09 AM
I liked this story quite a lot, well thought out and gripping with realistic character as our Host pointed out. Just as some people have complained, it was clear to me from the start that the voice was not hallucination, but it didn't make the story any less good, since it was also clear that in the traumatized state of the protagonist, hallucinations would very well be possible, and she might also be trained to expect that. As for her dragging the body with her, it was a bit tougher to swallow but I went with it as an irrational choice in an extreme situation. Now, if I would have any complaint about this story, it would be that it choose to end when it did. I think that kind of freeze-frame ending is a bit overused, but it's a minor problem in what was otherwise a pretty great episode.