Author Topic: EP260: The Speed of Dreams  (Read 25884 times)

Swamp

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on: September 30, 2010, 05:37:48 PM
EP260: The Speed of Dreams

By Will Ludwigsen
Read by Mur Lafferty

Host: Norm Sherman

First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction
---

Paige Sumner

8th Grade Science Fair Paper Draft

#

Introduction

It happens all the time: you’re sitting in class, listening the best you can while Mister Waters goes on and on about atoms or sound waves or whatever, when suddenly you fall asleep. Your head lolls against your shoulder and some drool oozes from the side of your mouth. Luckily, Missy Woo kicks you in the knee to wake you up before someone notices, like Mister Waters or–worse–Austin.

What’s weird is that in those few minutes of sleeping, you dream like hours of stuff. You’re all hanging out or playing basketball or walking the mall while everybody else is slowly raising their hands and taking notes. They all get twenty four hours that day, but you get a little extra.

But how much extra?


Rated PG  For mild drug use.


Show Notes:

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« Last Edit: October 21, 2010, 04:21:06 PM by eytanz »

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Void Munashii

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Reply #1 on: October 01, 2010, 02:54:00 PM
  Wow, I was really impressed with this story at the start. I liked the idea of it being a rough draft of a school science report, I liked the tone of it (helped greatly by Mur's reading), and I liked the generally irrelevant information thrown in by paige; it felt authentic to me. I also liked the subject matter. I have always been fascinated with dreaming and the time differences between dreams and waking life, and the idea of trying to figure out what that difference is exactly, no matter how flawed the expiriment, seemed fun.

  Then towards the end we suddenly start talking about Nana more. "Okay," I thought, "Where are we going with this?", and I kept listening only to be completely blindsided by the end. I still like the story, but such a dark ending to what had, up to that point, been such a fun and kind of light hearted story really surprised me.

  My wife, Osaka, and I had a bit of a debate about this at the end though. Her opinion is that Paige committed suicide, while I think she may just have been a bit stupid when it came down to it. Sure she seems relatively bright throughout most of the story, but she also doesn't seem particularly depressed.

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heyes

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Reply #2 on: October 01, 2010, 05:04:53 PM
Well... Um... It was a good story, it was well read, had some interesting layers - well okay it had two, but they played nicely against each other.

But... The only was this is an escape pod story is if we consider the science fiction aspect of this story as a pun.  Right?  I mean it's a fiction piece, and it's about a science project.  So it's "science fiction".

But I kind of got out of this story feeling like I hadn't actually listened to Escape Pod.

Again, good story, but strange venue.

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Reply #3 on: October 01, 2010, 07:02:43 PM
My wife, Osaka, and I had a bit of a debate about this at the end though. Her opinion is that Paige committed suicide, while I think she may just have been a bit stupid when it came down to it. Sure she seems relatively bright throughout most of the story, but she also doesn't seem particularly depressed.

That's what really got me about this story, the ending.  Norm said it perfectly - "Woah."  There's so much up for interpretation.  Is this suicide?  Is it the character's ignorance played to a logical extension, or maybe just an attempt at escapism?

More importantly for me, what I loved about this piece, and what made it science fiction, was the school science project as frame for the story.  So often real science - assumptions, hypotheses, observations - gets paid lip service in pursuit of the great narrative.  This story turned that on its head and told itself in the glosses of the report. 

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Void Munashii

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Reply #4 on: October 01, 2010, 09:02:58 PM
More importantly for me, what I loved about this piece, and what made it science fiction, was the school science project as frame for the story.  So often real science - assumptions, hypotheses, observations - gets paid lip service in pursuit of the great narrative.  This story turned that on its head and told itself in the glosses of the report. 

I liked this too once I realized that's what was going on. I was going along enjoying the story but wondering , "Shouldn't this be on Podcastle?" until I realized that it was fiction about science; literally science fiction. I think that's part of what I found so charming about it most of the way through.

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mbrennan

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Reply #5 on: October 01, 2010, 09:30:03 PM
Wow -- did *not* see that punch coming at the end.  Upon reflection, I think I'm on the side of "she was experimenting, not committing suicide;" she was clearly upset about Austin, but not kill-yourself-upset.  Still, I found it plausible; think of all the safety things we do to keep little kids from eating medicine or cleaning products or whatever, because they look like candy.  Or handgun accidents, because they don't fully grasp what will happen if they pull the trigger.  I can imagine an experimentally-minded kid not understanding the danger of taking Nana's sleeping pills, once she's gotten wrapped up in the idea that she can live *more* by going to sleep.

I agree that this is teetering on the very furthest border of science fiction, but I liked the story enough that I don't mind.  It only bothers me when the story fails to hold me. :-)



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Reply #6 on: October 02, 2010, 01:42:24 AM
Anyone who can make boring measurements into an interesting tale is alright by me



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Reply #7 on: October 02, 2010, 05:18:26 AM
Dark and neat.



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Reply #8 on: October 02, 2010, 04:59:55 PM
I can't speak for others but I can usually tell I am dreaming even while doing it.* And for another thing the best dreams I've ever had pale in comparison with the best experiences I've had in my conscious, reality based life. Nana is just a meat-based computer endlessly recycling itself and nothing more. Like a CD player in a stalled car that will keep playing songs until the battery is exhausted. Nana wasn't likely experiencing or even "remembering" anything at all.  r Perhaps that is what the author was trying to say. That the immature, inexperienced or unreflective sorts (i.e., the kid) don't grasp this. Form over essence.

* Doubt that? Then try keeping a dream journal for a month or two. For most people this will be quite insightful and maybe even open a new door of perception for you.



Darwinist

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Reply #9 on: October 03, 2010, 02:48:24 PM
Good stuff.  It started losing me a bit with all the experiment facts but I hung in there and the ending was a kick in the arse.  Win!

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.    -  Carl Sagan


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Reply #10 on: October 03, 2010, 03:31:29 PM
Putting science and the scientific method in science fiction?  Who'd have guessed!  :)  (Yes, I know, doesn't really fit the scientific method.)

I think the reason we didn't see the ending coming was due to the rather lighthearted reading Mur gave it, which let the ending become a left-field shot instead of the obvious direction.  Even when talking about how she'd been crying, it's said with a sufficiently dismissive air that I interpreted it as the girl confessing about how silly she'd been.  The suicide (and I have trouble seeing it as anything else) at the end is a great little punctate blow to reverse our previous impressions of the girl.



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Reply #11 on: October 03, 2010, 04:47:26 PM
I don't think the ending was a suicide. She was hoping to induce a comma so that she could remain in a dream state for a prolonged time and escape reality.

I know there was a thread in the Raising Jenny about the lack of hard sci-fi, and I'm all for softer pieces. EP gives such a steady stream of material I think there is room for a wide variety. That being said I don't think this science fiction. It is fiction about science.  I know this originally was in Asimovs, There is no speculative element in it. Well written, but I felt a bit disappointed at the end.



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Reply #12 on: October 03, 2010, 04:59:59 PM
I really liked this story, though I'd agree with others that Paige is not intending to commit suicide, though death or severe brain damage is the most obvious outcome. To have a fairly light story take a sudden right turn like that was most satisfying, this is an example of what I was talking about elsewhere a month or two back about how a story that is horrifying is often more effective on EP than PP because it's more unexpected. I did not see this coming at all.



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Reply #13 on: October 03, 2010, 05:40:08 PM
@ Bill
Quote
I don't think the ending was a suicide. She was hoping to induce a comma so that she could remain in a dream state for a prolonged time and escape reality.

This sounds to me like what a lot of religious beliefs refer to as an afterlife. The kid may not mean to check out as in "shutting off the lights" (AKA, "physical death"), but isn't that a distinction with out of a difference? Seems so to me.



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Reply #14 on: October 03, 2010, 07:52:50 PM
@ Bill
Quote
I don't think the ending was a suicide. She was hoping to induce a comma so that she could remain in a dream state for a prolonged time and escape reality.

This sounds to me like what a lot of religious beliefs refer to as an afterlife. The kid may not mean to check out as in "shutting off the lights" (AKA, "physical death"), but isn't that a distinction with out of a difference? Seems so to me.

Not to the central character, she was hoping to come back having adventured in dreams for a (comparatively) short period of time in the real world.



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Reply #15 on: October 03, 2010, 09:37:03 PM
Kind of a light-hearted feeling for a really darkly depressed narrator - not that much different than real life, suicides often seem to come out of nowhere to their friends and relations. A preference for the sleeping/dreaming world to real life may feel familiar to anyone who has ever wanted to avoid their own reality.



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Reply #16 on: October 03, 2010, 09:52:01 PM
@ Bill
Quote
I don't think the ending was a suicide. She was hoping to induce a comma so that she could remain in a dream state for a prolonged time and escape reality.

This sounds to me like what a lot of religious beliefs refer to as an afterlife. The kid may not mean to check out as in "shutting off the lights" (AKA, "physical death"), but isn't that a distinction with out of a difference? Seems so to me.
As it was said, she wanted to wake up afterward. Yes physical suicide is very different than wanting to abuse drugs to induce an alternate reality. Another clue to this is from escape pod itself. Notice the warning was for drug usage, not suicide.



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Reply #17 on: October 03, 2010, 10:48:56 PM
Ah, when has EP ever given a "suicide" warning?  ???



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Reply #18 on: October 03, 2010, 11:10:53 PM
I had to listen to this one twice. The first time it took me a little bit to get into the science report/diary style, but once I did I enjoyed the story. The ending was a real change in tone and took my by surprise. After a second listen, the picture I get of Paige is of a bored, lonely teen who misses her fun, interesting Nanna. She wants to follow Nanna into the interesting dream life Paige imagines she is having, thereby escaping her own life for a while. It certainly doesn't seem to me like she intends to commit suicide.

What puzzled me, though, was what kind of pills were those? The story seems to imply that they are sleeping pills. But why is Nanna taking them? The story also seems to imply that she is in a coma. Why give sleeping pills to someone in a coma? Are they pain pills that make Nanna sleep as a side effect?  For me, the lack of clarity about the pills in the story underscores the fact that Paige doesn't know what she's doing when she intends to take them. She just wants to be able to live 4 (hopefully interesting) lives to everyone else's 1.



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Reply #19 on: October 04, 2010, 01:11:56 PM
Ah, when has EP ever given a "suicide" warning?  ???

It would have been a bit of a spoiler if they had.

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Reply #20 on: October 04, 2010, 02:22:21 PM
Not science fiction. The events of this story have been possible for decades at least.

I wonder whether her death is going to be considered accidental overdose, or suicide. Or if her journal will be found.

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Reply #21 on: October 04, 2010, 02:27:22 PM
What puzzled me, though, was what kind of pills were those? The story seems to imply that they are sleeping pills. But why is Nanna taking them? The story also seems to imply that she is in a coma. Why give sleeping pills to someone in a coma?

Yeah I was wondering that too.  Maybe she decided that Nana was taking the pills to keep herself in the coma?  ???

I liked most of this story, the children's science experiment applied to dreams.  My wife and I have talked about dream time perceptions so it was cool to see it played out here. 

But the ending was too much of a tone change for me.  I think it was well done, and I think it fit with the story, so I don't think it's a story FLAW per se, I just didn't like it.  I was enjoying the sense of childish wonder and the sudden intent of self-induced coma was too depressing.



Unblinking

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Reply #22 on: October 04, 2010, 02:28:01 PM
Or if her journal will be found.

I assume her journal will be found, especially given the question of whether it was suicide or accident.



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Reply #23 on: October 04, 2010, 06:20:43 PM
This was a very nice story, very real. I didn't feel myself immersed in the story's world, caught up in it all, feeling that I'm part of the story, so much as just sitting there helping my little sister proof read her school report. (And yes, I do that, and she rights reports like that)
I chuckled aloud a few times, earning me some strange looks.
I've recently been reading a lot of O'Henry stories, so I should have been expecting the ending.
But I didn't, and that gave me a great thrill.
I love surprise endings, even (or perhaps especially) when they're not happy endings. And this one was great.
So good I posted on the forum again!

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Reply #24 on: October 05, 2010, 08:06:16 PM
Fantastic story, but my disbelief suspenders had a bit of a workout until I decided that the protagonist was writing an "experimental journal" rather than an after-the-fact report to give to her teacher. I loved the insight into her thought processes, especially how she's trying so hard to do the science right.

Like a lot of others here, I was a bit blindsided by the ending. It's not often that a story manages to surprise me so thoroughly, and I can't think of a better finale. I caught myself worried about what had happened to Paige hours later, before remembering that it was fiction.

I'm not really a purist when it comes to deciding if a story is "science fiction" enough for Escape Pod, and stories like this one are the reason. Whether it's sci-fi enough or not, it's a story I really enjoyed listening to.



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Reply #25 on: October 05, 2010, 10:57:43 PM
I really liked this story, though the ending was a little dark.  Great job with the narration Mur!



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Reply #26 on: October 06, 2010, 01:28:17 PM
I always find that the scrunch fator of time in my draems varies depending on if im ment to be alseep, If I am at work or on the train and nod off then then it feels like I have been asleep for ages (which is loverly) but while at home tucked up in bed it seems as if as soon as my head hits the pillow my alarm is going off!!

Anyway loved the story but I was sligthly shocked that after a good humoured start it all took a turn for the depressing at the end. Overall great story very well read :)

Dan



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Reply #27 on: October 06, 2010, 03:56:41 PM
I can imagine an experimentally-minded kid not understanding the danger of taking Nana's sleeping pills, once she's gotten wrapped up in the idea that she can live *more* by going to sleep.

That bothered me about the story.  Sure, a younger kid might not understand the danger of Nana's pills, but this was a 13 year old girl.  Not only was she an older kid, she sounded very smart.  I could buy a 9 or 10 year old making that mistake, maybe, but I have a 12 year old girl who listened to the story with me, and she remarked how stupid that was.  Also, this girl was helping take care of her Nana.  She had to know what the drugs were and how they affect someone.

If that one line was different, if it said "Take a couple of Nana's pills" instead of implying that she grabbed a handful and gobbed them down, then this story would be perfect.  But I suppose taking away that ambiguous ending (did she die or didn't she?  Is the whole story what her parents are reading after they find her?) would make the story have less of an impact.

I loved the style of a science journal/diary, and I always love when Mur reads us a story.  Her voice is terrific, very soothing.

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blueeyeddevil

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Reply #28 on: October 07, 2010, 04:11:20 PM
Was this hard SF? No. This story used a form of narrative framing that precluded it from engaging in what is currently clinically known about oneirology.
Was this soft SF? No. Talking about dreams, even in conjunction with numbers and science projects, doesn't actually make something SF.
Was this any sort of Speculative Fiction?
Only to the degree in which all fiction is speculative. Nothing fantastic happened in this story; reality was in no way altered. The speculative aspect of this story consisted entirely of the mental wanderings of a thirteen-year-old.
 I don't mind this sort of story, but for those who complain that they tune into SF podcasts for SF (whether for hard or soft SF): I think their complaints are well-founded.
As for this story on its own merits...
This story was really a hinged vignette about two beloved figures from the author's own history (and wonderful figures they do indeed seem to be), and to the degree that this story intended to honor these figures, the story was good.
On the other hand, this story, in my opinion, made the mistake of conflating an immature narrator with incomplete narrative fulfillment. While the narrative voice of the piece is indeed one which cannot be relied on for a complete and rational plot. Nevertheless within the meanderings and twists of the telling there needs to be foreshadowing and clues whether apparent or apophastic for the mental condition of the girl.
This narrator never came off as either stupid or suicidal, nor so disassociated from reality as to attempt something so foolish as what happened in the end, which gives the whole thing a bit of a cheap feeling. 
« Last Edit: October 07, 2010, 04:13:08 PM by blueeyeddevil »



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Reply #29 on: October 07, 2010, 05:40:52 PM
I don't want to participate in a "what is SF?" debate (because once you've seen a few, you've seen them all) but one other thing to consider:  When there is a fiction magazine with a particular genre of choice, there might also be some boundary areas which may not be in the strict confines of the genre, but which are likely to APPEAL to fans of that genre.

Take "Stepfathers" on Pseudopod, as an example, a comedic tale featuring Yog Sothoth.  I don't think that many people would say that that story inspires terror, or even unease in them.  It's silly, and funny, and doesn't try to be anything but.  I would generally define the horror genre as one which is defined by the feelings it evokes, varying degrees of unease or fear.  Stepfathers doesn't inspire any of these, yet I'd say it fits perfectly well at Pseudopod.  Why?  Because fans of horror, are more likely to be familiar with Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos than the general population.  Much of the humor derives from familiarity with the source material.

I'd say that, even if one argues that this story is not SF itself,  something similar goes for it as for Stepfathers.  Fans of SF are more likely to be interested in this story than the general population because it's about a child attempting to evoke the scientific method on something she doesn't understand in order to gain a greater understanding of it.

So, even if it's not SF, I'd still say it fits perfectly well in here because of the focus of its subject material.





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Reply #30 on: October 07, 2010, 08:43:03 PM
whoa. I liked the concept of this one.  the end was a bit of a surprise, but I have definitely been in the same head space as Paige, where you just want to never wake up.



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Reply #31 on: October 08, 2010, 03:53:51 AM
No! Don't take Nana's pills. Come be in my science class! I promise you I'll give you an A+ for your self-driven experiment. Don't do it, narrator. You have so much to live for!

Seriously, though, part of what I liked best about this story is the fact that the main character's crazy-ass experiment was actually pretty good science. Not perfect science, mind you, as it showed a certain lack of comprehension of the basics, but good science, following the rules and progressing methodically. If her assumptions were correct, she'd have discovered something.

If.

This was a very creepy story. With a slightly different bend, it could have been horror. Is Escape Pod doing an October/Halloween theme month, too?

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Reply #32 on: October 08, 2010, 04:14:44 PM
I really enjoyed this story. The slow development from a science experiment to a reflection on dreams and death was very nicely done. The end when it came wasn't so much dark as bittersweet to me.

The story reminded me of when I was a child, and had finally dealt with a long series of recurring nightmares. For a while I lived more fully in my dreams than I did while I was awake, and for a week or so I had a dream that I can only describe as being like serial fiction. I was actually eager to go to sleep each night, and went to bed early to maximise the time I had to dream.

In some ways the story evokes themes similar to those in the Matrix. What is reality? Is 'reality' inherently superior as an experience because it's real? Why live 60, 70, 80 years in reality when one can live four times that in dreams?



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Reply #33 on: October 08, 2010, 05:25:12 PM
In some ways the story evokes themes similar to those in the Matrix. What is reality? Is 'reality' inherently superior as an experience because it's real?

Not-really-on-topic: ever seen a low-budget SF film called Mindwarp starring Bruce Campbell?

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Reply #34 on: October 08, 2010, 07:02:45 PM
For a while I lived more fully in my dreams than I did while I was awake, and for a week or so I had a dream that I can only describe as being like serial fiction.

I had something like this for a while.  It wasn't within a week, it was just something that would happen periodically; every few months, when I woke up I would realize that I'd dreamt the next 'episode' of a kids' adventure story.  I think it took a few episodes before I even realized - while awake - that it was happening.  Could never remember much of the story after waking, but I always thought the serialization was both weird and cool.

Haven't had a episode of that story (that I remember) in a while, though.

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Reply #35 on: October 08, 2010, 07:12:36 PM
I once dreamed of a book I had read - a beautiful literary fantasy adventure novel - with such reality that I woke up with tears on my cheeks. The dream was so compelling... I can remember events, themes, locations, and character. I've spent days looking for it, but I think this book never really existed. The book - the fact that I read it - was just a dream.

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Reply #36 on: October 09, 2010, 10:48:53 PM
I, for one, find it healthy (and relatively enjoyable) to have the occasional discussion about whether something is science fiction or not.

(I disagree with Unblinking who said because once you've seen that debate a few times, you've seen them all, as I think it can be productive for a group of readers to discuss whether a story is science fiction or not.)

So, while I am pleased to see that many people enjoyed this story, I have to say that I did not, and I did not enjoy it because as the story progressed I kept waiting for something to happen relating to science or the unknown possible future.   (This story had zero SF components, thus making the argument about whether it is SF not very interesting.)

On the other hand, the fact that so many people liked the story proves that Unblinking was right in saying "When there is a fiction magazine with a particular genre of choice, there might also be some boundary areas which may not be in the strict confines of the genre, but which are likely to APPEAL to fans of that genre."   It is clear that many other listeners liked it.

Perhaps it is because there are precious few reliably high-quality sources of SF that I so cherish the stories they bring me -- and am so frustrated when a completely non-SF young adult story like this is served up on one of my favorite SF podcasts.

So, put me in the category of listener that blueeyeddevil described -- those who tune into SF podcasts wanting to hear SF.  











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Reply #37 on: October 09, 2010, 10:56:01 PM
I once dreamed of a book I had read - a beautiful literary fantasy adventure novel - with such reality that I woke up with tears on my cheeks. The dream was so compelling... I can remember events, themes, locations, and character. I've spent days looking for it, but I think this book never really existed. The book - the fact that I read it - was just a dream.

I'm sure there's a copy in Lucien's library  ;)

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Reply #38 on: October 10, 2010, 08:58:24 AM

So, put me in the category of listener that blueeyeddevil described -- those who tune into SF podcasts wanting to hear SF.  


DEFINE YOUR TERMS!  :)

The story was fiction, it was about science and it posited an idea that wouldn't get much shrift in consensus reality. That you didn't like the story is fine but I would respectfully suggest that calling it 'not SF' in this case is not correct.



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Reply #39 on: October 10, 2010, 12:32:01 PM

So, put me in the category of listener that blueeyeddevil described -- those who tune into SF podcasts wanting to hear SF.  


DEFINE YOUR TERMS!  :)

The story was fiction, it was about science and it posited an idea that wouldn't get much shrift in consensus reality. That you didn't like the story is fine but I would respectfully suggest that calling it 'not SF' in this case is not correct.
First I have to note shrift. Either word of the day calender or Aurthur Conan Doyle is posting on this forum, a prospect I'm very excited about. (Though what is consensus reality, what type of sin would it commit that it would need to confess and what type of priest would hear its shriving?)
I have to completely  disagree with you Loz, There is no need to "define ones terms" in order to defend this piece as not being science fiction. While the story had a scientific element but that scientific element had no speculative slant to it. I thought there was a nice listing of writer's definitions at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definitions_of_science_fiction.
Speed of Dreams was a fine story, it could have appeared in any number literary journals if had been submitted to, but I agree with the corner of this argument that felt that this piece missed in the genre it was presented in.



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Reply #40 on: October 10, 2010, 09:24:22 PM

So, put me in the category of listener that blueeyeddevil described -- those who tune into SF podcasts wanting to hear SF.  


DEFINE YOUR TERMS!  :)

The story was fiction, it was about science and it posited an idea that wouldn't get much shrift in consensus reality. That you didn't like the story is fine but I would respectfully suggest that calling it 'not SF' in this case is not correct.
First I have to note shrift. Either word of the day calender or Aurthur Conan Doyle is posting on this forum, a prospect I'm very excited about. (Though what is consensus reality, what type of sin would it commit that it would need to confess and what type of priest would hear its shriving?)
I have to completely  disagree with you Loz, There is no need to "define ones terms" in order to defend this piece as not being science fiction. While the story had a scientific element but that scientific element had no speculative slant to it. I thought there was a nice listing of writer's definitions at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definitions_of_science_fiction.
Speed of Dreams was a fine story, it could have appeared in any number literary journals if had been submitted to, but I agree with the corner of this argument that felt that this piece missed in the genre it was presented in.
For me, definition and catagorization is subjective and can't be an arguement that anyone can "win" (clearly the editor considered this sci fi, what ho :)), but the best way I can put it is this:
If I'm looking for an outfit for my daughter's American Doll, I go to the toy/doll section, not the clothing section.  It could be argued to put all the "clothes" together, (the store manager makes that call), but I expect it in the toy section because of past experience - it's not wrong that they are somewhere else, just not what I expect.  If you organized a store, where would you put the hallowe'en costumes?

This story doesn't match my definition of sci-fi.  It's a strech no matter how you look at it. 
It was a nifty story, well written, the ending dark, but believeable to me (some times my teens say or do the most unlogical things (yes unlogical, not illogical - they are so out there they are the antithesis of logic :))) though I would have preferred something more in line with my def'n of sci fi.



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Reply #41 on: October 12, 2010, 03:20:57 AM
I think MCWagner hit the nail on the head for why I didn't like the ending; Mur's (generally excellent) reading was just a bit too peppy and light-hearted, making me dismiss the hinted-at disappointments as minor disappointments.  Thinking back, I can see a lot of foreshadowing of the narrator's fragile state of mind (such as having to take "slow science" this year due to some unspecified breakdown when she pushed herself too hard academically the year before.)  However, because Mur gave the narrator such a chipper tone, she didn't seem suicidal; I suspect I'd have been less taken aback had I read this story in text rather than heard it in audio.

I loved the implied story effect, but the suicide was just a bit too unexpected to make for a satisfying ending. 



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Reply #42 on: October 12, 2010, 02:12:55 PM
I once dreamed of a book I had read - a beautiful literary fantasy adventure novel - with such reality that I woke up with tears on my cheeks. The dream was so compelling... I can remember events, themes, locations, and character. I've spent days looking for it, but I think this book never really existed. The book - the fact that I read it - was just a dream.

I often dream in terms of media, but the media never stays consistent throughout.  A single story will shift between being an interactive game, to a movie, to a book. The experience actually works very well in the dreams despite the shifting because sometimes there are times when you just want to watch the action and other times when you want to influence it, but I don't think it would translate well to a real life interpretation of it.

I had a single standalone dream once that was so vivid and so amazing that I've longed to try to transfer it into a story format.  It was very sad, reminding me strongly of... what was it... the Nun's Tale in The Canterbury Tales, about the martyr child?  It was sort of a longer expansion of that one, with more characters added in.  Betrayal, deceit, family ties, martyrdom, with hints at the supernatural.  Thank goodness I was keeping a dream journal at the time so I have it recorded, now I just need to develop the skill to pen it properly!



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Reply #43 on: October 12, 2010, 08:39:19 PM
I think MCWagner hit the nail on the head for why I didn't like the ending; Mur's (generally excellent) reading was just a bit too peppy and light-hearted, making me dismiss the hinted-at disappointments as minor disappointments.  Thinking back, I can see a lot of foreshadowing of the narrator's fragile state of mind (such as having to take "slow science" this year due to some unspecified breakdown when she pushed herself too hard academically the year before.)  However, because Mur gave the narrator such a chipper tone, she didn't seem suicidal; I suspect I'd have been less taken aback had I read this story in text rather than heard it in audio.

I loved the implied story effect, but the suicide was just a bit too unexpected to make for a satisfying ending. 

But it wasn't an intentional suicide on Paige's part, she just thought she'd be sleeping her pain away.



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Reply #44 on: October 12, 2010, 09:00:51 PM

So, put me in the category of listener that blueeyeddevil described -- those who tune into SF podcasts wanting to hear SF.  


DEFINE YOUR TERMS!  :)

The story was fiction, it was about science and it posited an idea that wouldn't get much shrift in consensus reality. That you didn't like the story is fine but I would respectfully suggest that calling it 'not SF' in this case is not correct.
First I have to note shrift. Either word of the day calender or Aurthur Conan Doyle is posting on this forum, a prospect I'm very excited about. (Though what is consensus reality, what type of sin would it commit that it would need to confess and what type of priest would hear its shriving?)
I have to completely  disagree with you Loz, There is no need to "define ones terms" in order to defend this piece as not being science fiction. While the story had a scientific element but that scientific element had no speculative slant to it. I thought there was a nice listing of writer's definitions at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definitions_of_science_fiction.
Speed of Dreams was a fine story, it could have appeared in any number literary journals if had been submitted to, but I agree with the corner of this argument that felt that this piece missed in the genre it was presented in.
For me, definition and catagorization is subjective and can't be an arguement that anyone can "win" (clearly the editor considered this sci fi, what ho :)), but the best way I can put it is this:
If I'm looking for an outfit for my daughter's American Doll, I go to the toy/doll section, not the clothing section.  It could be argued to put all the "clothes" together, (the store manager makes that call), but I expect it in the toy section because of past experience - it's not wrong that they are somewhere else, just not what I expect.  If you organized a store, where would you put the hallowe'en costumes?

This story doesn't match my definition of sci-fi.  It's a strech no matter how you look at it. 
It was a nifty story, well written, the ending dark, but believeable to me (some times my teens say or do the most unlogical things (yes unlogical, not illogical - they are so out there they are the antithesis of logic :))) though I would have preferred something more in line with my def'n of sci fi.

Not a ton to add to this discussion, but FWIW: in addition to EP considering it a SF story, so did Sheila Williams, who originally published it at Asimov's Science Fiction.

This was a story about someone who was frustrated with life, wanted to escape (into a dream reality), and have four times the amount of adventures she could have in reality.

I hope she wakes up, and I would've told her not to do it (especially over whatshisname), but I gotta say I do understand the desire. Not to get all meta, but that's at least part of the reason I tune in every week. 

Still working on multiplying my time by four, though  ;)


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Reply #45 on: October 12, 2010, 10:34:26 PM
Cute, clever, evil story.

Not SF, even by loose standards, but clever and enjoyable.

-Dave (aka Nev the Deranged)


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Reply #46 on: October 13, 2010, 08:33:42 PM
While I realize the story is a one-shot, I found myself wondering about Paige long after the story ended. I want to know more about *her*, about her life, if she submitted her experiment to her teacher, what his reactions were, and what kind of future this girl has.




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Reply #47 on: October 25, 2010, 08:12:53 PM
I think MCWagner hit the nail on the head for why I didn't like the ending; Mur's (generally excellent) reading was just a bit too peppy and light-hearted, making me dismiss the hinted-at disappointments as minor disappointments.  Thinking back, I can see a lot of foreshadowing of the narrator's fragile state of mind (such as having to take "slow science" this year due to some unspecified breakdown when she pushed herself too hard academically the year before.)  However, because Mur gave the narrator such a chipper tone, she didn't seem suicidal; I suspect I'd have been less taken aback had I read this story in text rather than heard it in audio.

I loved the implied story effect, but the suicide was just a bit too unexpected to make for a satisfying ending. 

But it wasn't an intentional suicide on Paige's part, she just thought she'd be sleeping her pain away.

I'm afraid I'd disagree... though it's up to interpretation.  The kid may be a little disturbed, but I didn't feel that she's so far out of it as to misinterpret what she was doing as anything other than a suicide attempt.  This isn't a ten-year-old, but a mid-to-late teen who'd taken some manner of advanced science classes... she's not going to be fooling herself into thinking she'll be able to knock herself into a coma by taking grannie's meds.  From that angle, all her talk about "sleeping away her life" becomes a poetic angsty teen melodrama version of killing herself... a "woe is me" diary entry found after the fact.  I think we were all misdirected from this interpretation by the upbeat reading.  (On the other hand, I can see how it would be read the other way... it's just that, for me, the story gave her too much intelligence for that to seem a plausible outcome.)

I'm enormously puzzled by the "this isn't SF" argument, but that's more hair-splitting than I really want to engage in.



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Reply #48 on: October 26, 2010, 04:43:59 PM
The premise of the story was interesting, although I was going "Holy crap kid overdosing on meds!!!" for the last few minutes of the story.  Ultimately, the story seemed lacking in action.  There was only one character in the whole story and she didn't carry it well enough for me.  Maybe it was supposed to be some sort of Young Adult fiction, but overdosing on prescription meds doesn't sound like something you'd want your teenage daughter to read about.

As for the discussion on whether something is sci-fi or not, I personally find it tiresome and self-masturbatory, which is why I tend to just skip to the end whenever I see people start in on it.  Nothing personal to those of you that enjoy talking about it, mind you, I just think it adds absolutely nothing in the way of describing the quality of the story, giving constructive feedback to the author, nor giving a clue to a potential reader whether they may enjoy the story or not.  It's akin to people arguing whether a particular pair of pants are charcoal or grey, when they could just try the damn things on and see how they fit.



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Reply #49 on: October 28, 2010, 05:44:34 PM
It's akin to people arguing whether a particular pair of pants are charcoal or grey, when they could just try the damn things on and see how they fit.

Well said.



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Reply #50 on: October 28, 2010, 06:23:13 PM
Although some other listeners may think this was Science Fiction, I didn't.  It was all a bit "Yawn".  More space ships and aliens please.


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Reply #51 on: October 30, 2010, 07:35:53 PM
Way too simple, weak ending.



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Reply #52 on: November 12, 2010, 06:30:58 PM
I liked the story.  A lot.

Is it SF?  It was liked by at least 2 sf editors and many more sf fans.  QED.

Is Mur's tone believable reading of a character about to commit suicide?  Unfortunately, yes.  Personal experience.

Do I think she killed herself?  No.  Melatonin and Rozerem are two of a very few sleep meds that do not inhibit dreams, and they are not that toxic.  Still, that might have been part of her intent.  To sleep, perchance...

http://www.apoGrypha.blogspot.com

What would have been written. 

Spoiler (click to show/hide)


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Reply #53 on: November 12, 2010, 08:28:46 PM
At the end, I blinked and check the time on my mp3 player. I didn't expect it to end so abruptly. Don't get me wrong, I liked the story, and Mur's reading was FANTASTIC. It's just that I didn't buy the ending...because...well...it's a diary.

Just because she wrote it out doesn't mean she actually did it. To me, it just seemed like a girl writing a fantasy out, but there's no way to tell if she actually followed through.

Unless you count the abrupt end of the story.

Hmmm....

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Reply #54 on: November 17, 2010, 02:10:42 AM
As for the discussion on whether something is sci-fi or not, I personally find it tiresome and self-masturbatory, which is why I tend to just skip to the end whenever I see people start in on it.  Nothing personal to those of you that enjoy talking about it, mind you, I just think it adds absolutely nothing in the way of describing the quality of the story, giving constructive feedback to the author, nor giving a clue to a potential reader whether they may enjoy the story or not.  It's akin to people arguing whether a particular pair of pants are charcoal or grey, when they could just try the damn things on and see how they fit.

Well put.

-Dave (aka Nev the Deranged)


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Reply #55 on: November 26, 2010, 07:39:28 PM
The reading was great, and the story was disturbing, which made me think it belonged more on pseudopod, because it wasn't sci-fi. but that being said, i still loved it because it was so disturbing

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Reply #56 on: November 28, 2010, 08:59:27 PM
It's akin to people arguing whether a particular pair of pants are charcoal or grey, when they could just try the damn things on and see how they fit.

Well said.

Indeed. I reckon I'll frame that and put it up on my wall!


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Reply #57 on: November 28, 2010, 09:09:43 PM
Loved the story. Loved it for the sweetly naive method of measuring dream time and the contemplative nostalgia of wondering about Nana's life and what kind of life she was dreaming now.

The ending literally stopped me in my tracks -- I was walking to work -- and I thought, "Wait, what? Did I just hear that?" I backed up the story so I could hear it again. Since it was so intertwined with thoughts about dreams and possibilities, I didn't attach a sinister meaning. And she expected to wake up.

Was it SF? Who cares? It's a great story.


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Reply #58 on: December 14, 2010, 02:54:00 PM
[snip]
To have a fairly light story take a sudden right turn like that was most satisfying, this is an example of what I was talking about elsewhere a month or two back about how a story that is horrifying is often more effective on EP than PP because it's more unexpected. I did not see this coming at all.
I dunno. I think I would argue just the opposite. There should be a bit of a build-up to a hinted-at-yet-unseen horror, rather than a "Bread Eggs Milk Squick"-type twist at the end.

SF or not SF? Well, about "Raising Jenny" and "Lady or the Tiger" I would have complained "not SF"; but I can forgive it in "The Speed of Dreams" because I have a well-developed mechanism for coping with cognitive dissonance.

All that being said, I really enjoyed this story, and Mur's reading. She had me on the first "whatever...".
Yay for Paige choosing to ditch the original artsy-craftsy project and do some original scientific research. I certainly don't think she intended to end it all because of Austin. The first time through, I didn't think that she was going to (unintentionally) take a fatal dose, so the ending didn't seem quite as dark at the time, but this line - "1. Take the rest of Nana's pills, so I can catch up" - now makes me think otherwise.
I think I like my mis-remembered version better.

BTW, What movie were those clips from, between 15:03 and 15:25?

Oh, and there's this recent offering from the fine folks at cheezburger, subsection derp.com:



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Reply #59 on: December 15, 2010, 05:32:10 AM

BTW, What movie were those clips from, between 15:03 and 15:25?


Hard to say,  I was a little tipsy that night.  In that particular 20 seconds I believe there are some Inception impersonations, some Strip Tease references and some classic Saved by the Bell snippets.



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Reply #60 on: December 15, 2010, 05:20:09 PM
I first encountered this story in the printed context and I've gotta say I had forgotten exactly what the ending was- I just had a visceral sort of reaction when I recognized the story much like one does in a horror movie when someone walks into a dark room where you "know" the killer is hiding. That being said, I loved it the first time and I love it now. Mur's reading very closely approximated the way I "heard" the story the first time. As for whether she dies, I am firmly in the dead camp because: I thought the whole diary was like what the parents found by her body and were reading trying to figure out what the hell happened and also that she mentions very early on that she had had trouble the year before in "handling" school stress and her class load had been scaled back. This seems a bit ominous and so... Damn but I liked the kid anyway. Great stuff, Escape Pod.

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Reply #61 on: December 16, 2012, 12:31:16 PM
clever idea