Author Topic: EP234: The Secret Protocols of the Elders of Zion  (Read 33813 times)

cunningminx

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Reply #50 on: January 27, 2010, 03:58:43 PM
Interesting story. I started by being surprised at the lack of content warning, but quickly realized why--"drugs" in another context don't really require a warning.

Know what really struck me about this story? Very Spider Robinson-esque. Spider has an obsession with communities becoming telepathic, and he's also friendly to mary jane himself. The idea that weed could serve as a mechanism for group telepathy--if the story had taken place in a dive bar in New York, I would have thought Spider himself wrote it. :-)



wakela

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Reply #51 on: January 28, 2010, 12:19:46 AM
When it's a clash of economic systems Capitalism is the bad guy.
When it's a clash of cultures/countries the US is the bad guy.
When it's a clash of species humans are the bad guy.

Some nuance and/or variety would be welcome. 

I call confirmation bias.  I had to go back ten episodes before I found one (Pirate Solutions) which matched any of your descriptors, and even then the anti-capitalism was more of just pure anarchism.  "Everything That Matters" pretty much endorsed capitalism and thrill-seeking on multiple levels.  "Littleblossom" had Americans/International Peacekeepers as pretty obvious good guys, even if the protagonist didn't see them that way.  "Candy Art" was even a love song to capitalistic success and pasty white guys.  The other stories didn't really touch on any of this (unless you want to count "His Master's Voice" as being anti-capitalist because it riffed on the RIAA, or anti-human 'cause the heros were a dog and cat.)

Maybe it bugs you more when you see it, but it's hardly fair to say that EP isn't providing nuance or variety.
sigh.  Scattercat, why do you think your cool logic is any match for my cozy righteous indignation.  I'll cop to some selection bias, and apologize to Mr. Eley and the EP crew in implying that EP does not present a variety of SF stories.  It does.  However, when a story (not just on EP) engages in social criticism either as it's main theme or as an aside, it tends to be criticizing the same things in the same way.  I glanced at back episodes too, and I'll admit most of the recent stories have not engaged in social criticism.   So I'll drop it.  For now. 



Scattercat

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Reply #52 on: January 28, 2010, 03:38:51 AM
However, when a story (not just on EP) engages in social criticism either as it's main theme or as an aside, it tends to be criticizing the same things in the same way.

Well, I don't have a survey of modern genre fiction handy, so I can't really address that thought.  I can understand being uneasy around politics in stories in general, certainly.  Some folks like art in their politics, some like politics in their art, and others just don't see the appeal in Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.



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Reply #53 on: January 28, 2010, 04:34:19 AM
When it's a clash of economic systems Capitalism is the bad guy.
When it's a clash of cultures/countries the US is the bad guy.
When it's a clash of species humans are the bad guy.

Some nuance and/or variety would be welcome. 

I call confirmation bias.  I had to go back ten episodes before I found one (Pirate Solutions) which matched any of your descriptors, and even then the anti-capitalism was more of just pure anarchism.  "Everything That Matters" pretty much endorsed capitalism and thrill-seeking on multiple levels.  "Littleblossom" had Americans/International Peacekeepers as pretty obvious good guys, even if the protagonist didn't see them that way.  "Candy Art" was even a love song to capitalistic success and pasty white guys.  The other stories didn't really touch on any of this (unless you want to count "His Master's Voice" as being anti-capitalist because it riffed on the RIAA, or anti-human 'cause the heros were a dog and cat.)

Maybe it bugs you more when you see it, but it's hardly fair to say that EP isn't providing nuance or variety.
sigh.  Scattercat, why do you think your cool logic is any match for my cozy righteous indignation.  I'll cop to some selection bias, and apologize to Mr. Eley and the EP crew in implying that EP does not present a variety of SF stories.  It does.  However, when a story (not just on EP) engages in social criticism either as it's main theme or as an aside, it tends to be criticizing the same things in the same way.  I glanced at back episodes too, and I'll admit most of the recent stories have not engaged in social criticism.   So I'll drop it.  For now. 

There may be a reason why it criticizes the same things in the same way.

Just sayin.



ancawonka

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Reply #54 on: January 28, 2010, 10:19:57 PM
I listened to this story over the weekend while weeding my garden (strangely appropriate, though the clover was probably unhappy about it) and I'm squarely in the "meh" camp.  I liked the premise of asteroid-based communities becoming totally independent and advancing science in their own way.  I enjoyed the culture portrayed and thought it was interesting how they are growing towards telepathy.  But...  I agree with earlier posters who said that the "villains" were one-dimensional.  It feels like they were just there to give the colony an excuse to take off, rather than providing some real points of controversy or conversation.

Also...  The title just seems too precious and clever for me to take the story 100% seriously.  Meh.



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Reply #55 on: January 29, 2010, 01:40:55 AM
Neat ideas, neat story... not sure how they escaped being blown to smithereens by the fleet, though. Did they have some means of protection that wasn't made clear?

Also, the characters didn't seem to realize that, although a self-sustaining asteroid colony makes a great generation-ship, it's just that- unless lifespans are artificially increased in some manner that wasn't detailed, none of the current population will be alive to reach Jah. Unless the Israelis have some kind of beaucoup stardrive...

I guess the technology isn't really the point of this story, and that's ok, but I do like consistency.

-Dave (aka Nev the Deranged)


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Reply #56 on: January 29, 2010, 08:37:01 AM
Neat ideas, neat story... not sure how they escaped being blown to smithereens by the fleet, though. Did they have some means of protection that wasn't made clear?

I think, though it wasn't explicitly stated in the comic, that the Americans don't have spaceship-to-spaceship weapons - at least not ones that could damage an asteroid, and that their plan involved invasion with troops. Once the asteroid started moving, then they were out of luck.

Quote
Also, the characters didn't seem to realize that, although a self-sustaining asteroid colony makes a great generation-ship, it's just that- unless lifespans are artificially increased in some manner that wasn't detailed, none of the current population will be alive to reach Jah. Unless the Israelis have some kind of beaucoup stardrive...

I'm not sure that they would have been troubled by this. But then again, we don't realy know where Jah is. Maybe he's hovering just outside the solar system or something, and they'll be there in 20 years or so (well, ok, that's kind of silly, but it's not ruled out by the story).



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Reply #57 on: January 29, 2010, 03:07:21 PM
Okay, not great.  The framework of an excellent story was there, but there were a few things that fell short:
  • Some repitition of themes that did not add to their previous mentionings
  • Fairly 2 dimensional characters in Dr Chung, Mother Kingston, Charles and even the Jewish fellow
  • I got caught on the "And then they had a space drive" hand waving that happened.  Surely the Americans would have stopped the shipments of parts if they knew it was happening. And I'm sure that there would be a lot of other parties interested.
  • Why bring back Dr Chung a second time if they were so sure that he was snooping around for the source of the network technology?
That said, I did like the idea of smoke as a networking technology, and the idea of self-sustaining asteroid colonies.  I think the author did, too, and formed a somewhat weak story around an excellent idea. 

Final nerd-quibble:  Contrary to what the story said, space is indeed very very very empty.  Roughly 1 atom per cm3 empty.  1 gallon of water at that density would be about the volume of the earth, if my math is right.  There's a whole LOT of nothing out there. 

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mountainwater

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Reply #58 on: February 02, 2010, 01:49:24 AM
Escape Pod, you have been one of the places I have been able to enjoy with my teenage son.  My teenage son, who has a substance abuse problem, will find any excuse to justify his drug use, to the point it has ruined his grades, his dreams of becoming a doctor, and generally cut him off from the non-stoner world.  Thanks for placing this SF style justification for how marijuana can be okay.  I had to listen to repeated requests to listen to this piece, and in the end I wondered if it would be different if the substance in question were ethanol, opium, or cocaine.  It didn't.  The cultural reference to Rasta and marijuana did not ring true as it would have if the discussion were about native american mescaline rituals- the native americans use mescaline as an aid to a solemn ritual- not for daily use, farming, or export, as the drug use was used in this story.  Meh and lame, and to a non-stoner falls flat. :(



Evenjos

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Reply #59 on: February 03, 2010, 07:17:06 AM
Dude ... if we smoke enough ganja ... we can escape the evil capitalist pig Americans and float into outer space.  Like, totally, man.

The blatant and simplistic anti-American, anti-corporation stance it takes makes me angry, though.  Not because it's invalid but because it's cliche, and the truth is more subtle and interesting.  When the central message of your story is the same as that of the number one Hollywood movie in the world you are not challenging anyone's preconceptions.

Yeah, I agree.



Talia

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Reply #60 on: February 03, 2010, 12:43:56 PM
Meh and lame, and to a non-stoner falls flat. :(

I am a non-stoner, and it did not fall flat for me. It would be fairer to ascribe your dislike of the piece to the issues with your son, not that you don't do drugs.

You don't have to be a drug user to like this story.



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Reply #61 on: February 03, 2010, 02:37:58 PM
Dude ... if we smoke enough ganja ... we can escape the evil capitalist pig Americans and float into outer space.  Like, totally, man.


Actually... IMO it's also a commentary on "if you don't like the policies and politics of the people around you, then leave". These people did just that. As an entire culture they had the testicular fortitude to do what politicos and famous people have threatened to do when the "wrong" person got elected/re-elected.

Tangent: did anyone else notice the recurrent themes in Sunday's McFarlane block on Fox? Cleveland Show was about how selling drugs hurts people but sometimes it's the only recourse they have, Family Guy was about the penal system (where a lot of relatively non-violent but multiply-offending drug dealers/users end up), and American Dad was about how addiction destroys families. Very preachy.

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Talia

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Reply #62 on: February 03, 2010, 03:38:20 PM
Methinks you're overthinking what are meant to be silly cartoons a little bit......




stePH

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Reply #63 on: February 03, 2010, 04:18:37 PM
...and American Dad was about how addiction destroys families. Very preachy.

The wife and I found the "Crack" pharmaceutical ad screamingly funny.

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yicheng

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Reply #64 on: February 05, 2010, 02:47:42 PM
Interesting concept.  I'm curious if the idea of this story was inspired from the Zion Rastafarians in William Gibson's Neuromancer (who were an asteroid mining community of rastas, smoking hemp, and listening to dub 24/7, and who ended up being pivotal to the story).  I was taken a bit out of the story by the reading, since none of the Rastafarians spoke with a patois, and instead sounded like they graduated from Harvard.  I don't know if Steve played with patois and decided that it didn't work, or maybe the story just wasn't written that way.  IMHO "Chiquita, this is Wang Chung." should have been "Dawta, dis be de Babylon man Wang Chung".



rayboston

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Reply #65 on: March 09, 2010, 01:07:09 PM
I thought the story was fun and interesting, but the title was a serious flaw.

If you're going to give a story a serious title, then you should address that issue in some way.  You can't write a punny tale, give out a snorty laugh, and say, "Hah! Dude!  Made you look!"

Sadly, he had the material to do the job.  The story had strong religious themes, and the offworlder threat could have been motivated by prejudice and misinformation, rather than simple corporate greed.  Then the ending would make more sense, it would almost echo the post WWII Exodus to Israel.

Could have been a B but the title drops it to a C.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2010, 01:12:56 PM by rayboston »



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Reply #66 on: March 09, 2010, 05:48:55 PM
I thought the story was fun and interesting, but the title was a serious flaw.

If you're going to give a story a serious title, then you should address that issue in some way.  You can't write a punny tale, give out a snorty laugh, and say, "Hah! Dude!  Made you look!"

Agreed.  It sort of takes an otherwise fairly straightforward story and turns it into a shaggy dog joke.



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Reply #67 on: March 16, 2010, 04:16:36 PM
I was taken a bit out of the story by the reading, since none of the Rastafarians spoke with a patois, and instead sounded like they graduated from Harvard.  I don't know if Steve played with patois and decided that it didn't work, or maybe the story just wasn't written that way.  IMHO "Chiquita, this is Wang Chung." should have been "Dawta, dis be de Babylon man Wang Chung".

On the contrary, I really appreciated Steve not doing an accent in reading this. And I liked how he did Charles's voice. It distinguished him as a loving brother without descending into a condescending stereotype.

As to the story itself, I am a little torn. On the one hand, the black little girl in me always squeal with delight at little black girl main characters. But at the same time, weed is present everywhere, which disturbed me a bit. I appreciated Steve's outro in that it put into words what I felt. The story provided a way to look at a religion in a completely new way and rubbed against our preconceived notions. Yet it still made me feel uncomfortable, mainly the whole Jamaican + weed thing.

And as for the title, honestly, I had no clue what the controversy in using it was all about. I had to look it up in Wikipedia.

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yicheng

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Reply #68 on: March 16, 2010, 04:56:03 PM
I was taken a bit out of the story by the reading, since none of the Rastafarians spoke with a patois, and instead sounded like they graduated from Harvard.  I don't know if Steve played with patois and decided that it didn't work, or maybe the story just wasn't written that way.  IMHO "Chiquita, this is Wang Chung." should have been "Dawta, dis be de Babylon man Wang Chung".

On the contrary, I really appreciated Steve not doing an accent in reading this. And I liked how he did Charles's voice. It distinguished him as a loving brother without descending into a condescending stereotype.
...

I don't know how doing an accurate accent can be labeled as a condescending stereotype.  It's not any different than doing a Brooklyn accent for a New Yorker, or a Southern Draw for a Southerner.  Most of the Rasta's I've known were from the carribeans and do talk like that (if not the patois, then with a definite accent).  Anyway, it's not a huge deal, but just sounded funny. 



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Reply #69 on: March 16, 2010, 11:31:14 PM
I don't know how doing an accurate accent can be labeled as a condescending stereotype.  It's not any different than doing a Brooklyn accent for a New Yorker, or a Southern Draw for a Southerner.  Most of the Rasta's I've known were from the carribeans and do talk like that (if not the patois, then with a definite accent).  Anyway, it's not a huge deal, but just sounded funny. 

Don' make a big ting about it, mon.  ;)
« Last Edit: March 18, 2010, 02:13:38 PM by stePH »

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Reply #70 on: March 18, 2010, 02:01:56 PM
And as for the title, honestly, I had no clue what the controversy in using it was all about. I had to look it up in Wikipedia.

For me, the title seemed intentionally invocative of The Matrix, where protocols would refer to security protocols or computer protocols, there was an elder council leading the last human refuge known as Zion.  I wouldn't call it controversial, but it put me in a certain mindset for what to expect, and when the story itself came out the title just seemed like the punchline to a bad pun.  Granted, all those words had other associations long before The Matrix came out, but because this is an SF podcast, that was the first conclusion I jumped to.  And, whether that association was a good one or not, it does exist.  Sort of like, if you named a story "Man of Steel", a lot of people are immediately going to think of Superman.  If that doesn't mesh well with the story, then the title might distract rather than enhance the story.



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Reply #71 on: March 18, 2010, 02:02:40 PM
Then again, I'm not sure if that was the same reason other people didn't think it was a great title.  I could be the only one that made The Matrix memory association.



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Reply #72 on: March 18, 2010, 04:03:49 PM
Sort of like, if you named a story "Man of Steel", a lot of people are immediately going to think of Superman. 

It would actually be more like naming your story "Mein Kampf," and then having it be about, I dunno, a summer camp called "Mein Kampf" because it's held in an abandoned coal mine and the people who run it misspelled "mine" and "camp."  There aren't any famous racist rants called "Man of Steel."

It can work, but it's definitely something that's going to cause double takes and likely irritate some people.



Talia

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Reply #73 on: March 18, 2010, 04:06:36 PM
It would actually be more like naming your story "Mein Kampf," and then having it be about, I dunno, a summer camp called "Mein Kampf" because it's held in an abandoned coal mine and the people who run it misspelled "mine" and "camp." 

Someone needs to write this story. I want to read it! :p

*hint, hint, flash fiction contest, hint, hint*



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Reply #74 on: March 18, 2010, 04:30:44 PM
And as for the title, honestly, I had no clue what the controversy in using it was all about. I had to look it up in Wikipedia.

For me, the title seemed intentionally invocative of The Matrix, where protocols would refer to security protocols or computer protocols, there was an elder council leading the last human refuge known as Zion.  I wouldn't call it controversial, but it put me in a certain mindset for what to expect, and when the story itself came out the title just seemed like the punchline to a bad pun.  Granted, all those words had other associations long before The Matrix came out, but because this is an SF podcast, that was the first conclusion I jumped to.  And, whether that association was a good one or not, it does exist.  Sort of like, if you named a story "Man of Steel", a lot of people are immediately going to think of Superman.  If that doesn't mesh well with the story, then the title might distract rather than enhance the story.

Yeah, I totally thought of the Matrix too. That and Lauryn Hill.

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