Author Topic: EP262: Cruciger  (Read 43650 times)

Dave

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 128
    • I Can Bend Minds With My Spoon
Reply #50 on: October 24, 2010, 10:45:42 PM
So, okay, there was a lot of handwavy technology going on here, but that wasn't the point. This story grabbed me by the heel and dragged me all over the emotional spectrum before gently setting me down somewhere where I felt good about myself and the future of humanity's children, if not humanity itself. I was really angry with Dexa at first, but she managed to redeem herself (and by extension, us) by the end. Dexa was unpredictable enough that I was never *quite* sure what she was going to do next, which kept the tension up during the otherwise straightforward ending.

Really enjoyed this one, and in fact the recent batch of casts across the EA family has been pretty excellent. I'd have to subscribe if I weren't already a supporter. But at the least I can pimp you guys on FB, so I'll do that instead.

Thanks, and keep 'em coming!

-Dave (aka Nev the Deranged)


chornbe

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 19
Reply #51 on: October 25, 2010, 06:48:26 PM
Enjoyed!

More Union Dues, please!

http://thepacepodcast.com


yicheng

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 221
Reply #52 on: October 26, 2010, 06:06:47 PM
I enjoyed the story overall, and had feelings similar to ElectricPaladin.  I found the idea of a sentient super-computer to be interesting, if not too original.  I have to also echo ElectricPaladin's sentiment that the Crucians fall way too easily into the noble savage stereotype.  It seems paradoxical that the Crucians had no sense of heaven, soul, or supernatural before Duxa and yet seemed to have no trouble understanding these ideas when Duxa presented them.  They have no social structures to speak of, are non-territorial, and yet have a very complex and flexible language (one that is apparently the same globally, which is something humans have yet to achieve).

I have to also say that I though the ending was too sweeping.  As others have said, we saw now mention of natural predators so we have to assume that the only thing keeping the Crucian population in check is the winter.  Remove that and you'd essentially be assuring an exponential population growth, followed by a Malthusian population crash when food supply is exceeded by demand.  Hard to believe that Duxa's super-computing brain couldn't have seen that one coming.



RKG

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 60
Reply #53 on: October 27, 2010, 02:38:46 AM
I wonder if Duxa is short for DeUs eX machinA?  Quite nearly literal in this case...  (and not meant as a criticism).

rkg  101010


Max e^{i pi}

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1038
  • Have towel, will travel.
Reply #54 on: October 27, 2010, 11:39:58 AM
I wonder if Duxa is short for DeUs eX machinA?  Quite nearly literal in this case...  (and not meant as a criticism).

Ooh, I never thought of that.
That's quite interesting, and I hope you're right.
That puts the whole story in a brand new light.
I found all of the difficulties in this story due to science rather tiresome and they detracted from my enjoyment of the story.
If, however, Duxa is the deus ex machina that saves humanity that means that the whole story can now fall into the dystopia/cynical genre and all the imperfect science only adds to the ludicrousness.
It also answers all of the theological questions that arose. What is (god(s)/God/G-d erase the ones you don't like) if not a grand dues ex machina? (If I'm not mistaken the term even comes from Shakespearean plays where a god would descend onto the stage to save the day, using a complex system of gears and pulleys).

In any event, regardless of whether this is what the author intended, I like it very much, and now like the story even more.  ;D

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!



Scattercat

  • Caution:
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4904
  • Amateur wordsmith
    • Mirrorshards
Reply #55 on: October 27, 2010, 03:34:27 PM
Actually, from the Greek and Roman plays, which - this being the dawn of the art form - tended to resolve complicated plots by simply having the gods come down and fix everything at the end.



therinth

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 64
    • fate loves the fearless
Reply #56 on: October 27, 2010, 05:26:22 PM
I wonder if Duxa is short for DeUs eX machinA?  Quite nearly literal in this case...  (and not meant as a criticism).

If it was, it wasn't intentional! (I wrote this story in about three days, at Clarion West, my last week. For all I really know, my hindbrain could have been grasping at straws.)



Gamercow

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 654
Reply #57 on: October 28, 2010, 04:00:21 AM
I adored this story.  The space travel/technology bits were a bit weak, but in this story, I didn't care.  I didn't care because I cared about the Crucians and Duxa and the last humans so much.   The Crucians were noble savages, or whatever trope you choose to stick them with, but to me, they were believable.  Just because Duxa hadn't seen conflict before doesn't mean that it didn't exist.  In fact, it probably did, given Scar's attack on her probe the first time she came down.  For me, the story was about growth, and change, and personal evolution.  Duxa grew, and as she did so, her view of theology changed.  Yes, the view was primarily Judeo-Christian, and this may have been a flaw, but one I could live with, given the length of the story. 

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #58 on: October 28, 2010, 01:35:03 PM
I wonder if Duxa is short for DeUs eX machinA?  Quite nearly literal in this case...  (and not meant as a criticism).

If it was, it wasn't intentional! (I wrote this story in about three days, at Clarion West, my last week. For all I really know, my hindbrain could have been grasping at straws.)

It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure it really fits a Deus Ex Machina anyway.  Yes, she swooped down and saved the lowly creatures, but did so only to save them from her own actions.  I don't think it counts as a Deus Ex Machina if the problem itself is caused by the same deity that solves the problem.  :)



Gamercow

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 654
Reply #59 on: October 28, 2010, 01:49:49 PM
Oh, and there was a race of beings in either Judas Unchained or Pandora's Star by Peter F Hamilton that used symbolic language transmitted in the UV spectrum. 

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


Max e^{i pi}

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1038
  • Have towel, will travel.
Reply #60 on: October 28, 2010, 08:13:35 PM
I wonder if Duxa is short for DeUs eX machinA?  Quite nearly literal in this case...  (and not meant as a criticism).

If it was, it wasn't intentional! (I wrote this story in about three days, at Clarion West, my last week. For all I really know, my hindbrain could have been grasping at straws.)

It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure it really fits a Deus Ex Machina anyway.  Yes, she swooped down and saved the lowly creatures, but did so only to save them from her own actions.  I don't think it counts as a Deus Ex Machina if the problem itself is caused by the same deity that solves the problem.  :)


What about the deus ex machina that saves humanity?

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!



Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
Reply #61 on: October 28, 2010, 08:44:06 PM
I wonder if Duxa is short for DeUs eX machinA?  Quite nearly literal in this case...  (and not meant as a criticism).

If it was, it wasn't intentional! (I wrote this story in about three days, at Clarion West, my last week. For all I really know, my hindbrain could have been grasping at straws.)

It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure it really fits a Deus Ex Machina anyway.  Yes, she swooped down and saved the lowly creatures, but did so only to save them from her own actions.  I don't think it counts as a Deus Ex Machina if the problem itself is caused by the same deity that solves the problem.  :)


What about the deus ex machina that saves humanity?

I don't think it's a Deus Ex Machina if the Machina in question creates the device that saves it. That's a Deus [In/of] Machina. 

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Max e^{i pi}

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1038
  • Have towel, will travel.
Reply #62 on: October 29, 2010, 09:48:11 AM
I wonder if Duxa is short for DeUs eX machinA?  Quite nearly literal in this case...  (and not meant as a criticism).

If it was, it wasn't intentional! (I wrote this story in about three days, at Clarion West, my last week. For all I really know, my hindbrain could have been grasping at straws.)

It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure it really fits a Deus Ex Machina anyway.  Yes, she swooped down and saved the lowly creatures, but did so only to save them from her own actions.  I don't think it counts as a Deus Ex Machina if the problem itself is caused by the same deity that solves the problem.  :)


What about the deus ex machina that saves humanity?

I don't think it's a Deus Ex Machina if the Machina in question creates the device that saves it. That's a Deus [In/of] Machina. 

Well, what if there are all kinds of holes in the story concerning that?
Like how humanity succumbed to this plague.
How they were able to construct such an AI.
And such a space ship.
And find a suitable planet to destroy/rebuild.
And in fact, all of the questions that were brought up in this thread.
Duxa just comes out of the clouds and solves them all.

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #63 on: October 29, 2010, 10:26:56 AM
I'm not entirely sure I understand what you're saying here, Max. All the questions you list are potential plot holes, but they don't affect the question of whether Duxa is a Deus ex Machina. A Deus ex Machina is a literary term - it means a plot element that came out of nowhere at the end of the story and resolved the problems. Duxa may resolve all the problems without much explanation, but she didn't come out of nowhere - she's there from the beginning of the story, and the fact that she's both willing and able to solve humanity's crisis is mentioned from very early on. You can argue that the science in the story is bad, but that just means that the story's outcome is unrealistic, not that it's unexpected, and a Deus ex Machina has to be unexpected.

I guess you might also be saying that from the point of view of the last humans Duxa is a Deus ex Machina - humanity seems lost and there's suddenly a machine that can save it. But I think the story addresses this perspective quite explciitly - it makes the point that all of humanity's resources were diverted into the Duxa project, and that humanity had known how to build such an AI/spaceship for a while, they just didn't want to pay the cost. You may, again, argue that it's terribly convenient that humanity had developed the Duxa technology in time for its plague (though I would think that by that criteria, about 99% of well-regarded SF is bunk), but that still doesn't make it a Deus ex Machina.

Of course, there's a literal meaning of Deus ex Machina as well - a god in a machine - which does apply in this case, as Duxa is a machine which plays the role of a god. That's how I interpreted RKG's original post. Beyond that, I just don't think the term applies.



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #64 on: October 29, 2010, 02:15:41 PM
I don't think it's a Deus Ex Machina if the Machina in question creates the device that saves it. That's a Deus [In/of] Machina. 

I agree.  If humanity saves itself by creating a miraculous god/machine, that is humanity creating its own solution, not a solution coming unexpectedly from the heavens.

Of course, there's a literal meaning of Deus ex Machina as well - a god in a machine - which does apply in this case, as Duxa is a machine which plays the role of a god. That's how I interpreted RKG's original post. Beyond that, I just don't think the term applies.

Ah, that's true.  I had been thinking of it in the literary context.  Taken literally it makes sense.

Random side-note--my favorite usage of "Deus Ex Machina" is the double meaning in the FPS "Deus Ex".  The protagonist acts as a deus ex machina dropping into problem areas and serving as an unexpected solution, and he is also more literally a "god from a machine" because he is a nanotech-augmented special agent.  :)



Max e^{i pi}

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1038
  • Have towel, will travel.
Reply #65 on: October 30, 2010, 08:39:06 PM
... a lot of stuff.
I won't make a huge double post, it's two posts up, go read it.

What I mean to say is, if Duxa is the Deus Ex Mchina, then the whole story, in my eyes (ears?) at least, takes on a whole new meaning.
It isn't about the internal conflicts of a complex machine, the strange and interesting tale of how humanity screwed up and tried to save itself, or even the emerging godhood of AI.
The whole story is a parody.
A spoof.
Basically it's saying "Oh look how convenient it is that some god can come out of the clouds and save us. True we may have to work very hard to create that god, but that's OK. That means that we can do anything we want. Carrying all of humanity's eggs in one basket is no longer a problem. Duxa will save us."
Where Duxa here is the Deus Ex Machina, the magical solution.
The science doesn't need to work in this kind of story, because that's not the point.
The same for the plot holes.
In fact, these imperfections even help to drive the point home.
"Yes, there are problems. Things don't fit right or make sense, but that's OK, Duxa will save us."

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #66 on: November 01, 2010, 06:11:17 PM
... a lot of stuff.
I won't make a huge double post, it's two posts up, go read it.

What I mean to say is, if Duxa is the Deus Ex Mchina, then the whole story, in my eyes (ears?) at least, takes on a whole new meaning.
It isn't about the internal conflicts of a complex machine, the strange and interesting tale of how humanity screwed up and tried to save itself, or even the emerging godhood of AI.
The whole story is a parody.
A spoof.
Basically it's saying "Oh look how convenient it is that some god can come out of the clouds and save us. True we may have to work very hard to create that god, but that's OK. That means that we can do anything we want. Carrying all of humanity's eggs in one basket is no longer a problem. Duxa will save us."
Where Duxa here is the Deus Ex Machina, the magical solution.
The science doesn't need to work in this kind of story, because that's not the point.
The same for the plot holes.
In fact, these imperfections even help to drive the point home.
"Yes, there are problems. Things don't fit right or make sense, but that's OK, Duxa will save us."

That's an interesting line of thought.  One of the ways that religion can be a deteriment to individuals and society is when it is used as an excuse to avoid responsibility.  For instance, one of my co-workers has told me many times about a relative of his who is able but refuses to get a job to provide for his family, and whenever asked why will only say "God will provide" and then living off of welfare and gifts from others.  Or, for instance, taking the phrase "Be fruitful and multiply" as an order to have as many kids as possible--the statement made a whole lot more sense in the days when the death rate was high enough to balance out high birth rates.

Which isn't to say I'm trying to knock religion.  I don't really consider myself an atheist, but that's one aspect of religion I see as a problem.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 06:12:55 PM by Unblinking »



Scattercat

  • Caution:
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4904
  • Amateur wordsmith
    • Mirrorshards
Reply #67 on: November 01, 2010, 09:11:17 PM
The issue is that "We can save ourselves if we work hard enough" isn't really an abdication of responsibility.  "Cruciger" certainly doesn't pull any punches in claiming, assigning, and addressing issues of responsibility and fault.  Humanity destroyed itself, but humanity also (attempted to) save itself.  This is the story of that second part, but that doesn't mean that it's a story about how everything's okay in the end and we don't have to do anything.  Duxa is the product of a large amount of work and resources; yes, she also has a lot of slightly unbelievable powers, but she isn't a deus ex machina in a literary or literal sense.

If I give my kid a $30 allowance for no reason other than that we have the money, I'm giving him/her something for nothing and not teaching responsibility.  If my kid has to perform age-appropriate chores to receive that allowance and stands to lose it if he/she doesn't, then I'm not enabling him/her to avoid responsibility. 

Duxa came into existence because, within the story, humanity came together in the face of the plague and worked to build her.  You might criticize that as an unrealistically rosy picture of what humans tend to do in times of crisis, but you can't say that she came out of nowhere or that her existence abdicates humanity's responsibility for their troubles.



Gamercow

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 654
Reply #68 on: November 02, 2010, 01:56:51 PM
I always determine the Deus ex Machina-ness of a character by comparing them to Gandalf.  The closer to Gandalf, the closer to Deus ex Machina. 

I think Duxa is at about .4Ga. She has incredible powers, and saves the day, but did not come out of nowhere to save the day. 

For reference, Dumbledore came in at .8Ga.

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #69 on: November 02, 2010, 02:03:41 PM
I always determine the Deus ex Machina-ness of a character by comparing them to Gandalf.  The closer to Gandalf, the closer to Deus ex Machina. 

I think Duxa is at about .4Ga. She has incredible powers, and saves the day, but did not come out of nowhere to save the day. 

For reference, Dumbledore came in at .8Ga.

Have you ever seen something >1.0 Ga? Or is Gandalf an absolute measurement, like Kelvin.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Max e^{i pi}

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1038
  • Have towel, will travel.
Reply #70 on: November 02, 2010, 07:44:54 PM
I always determine the Deus ex Machina-ness of a character by comparing them to Gandalf.  The closer to Gandalf, the closer to Deus ex Machina. 

I think Duxa is at about .4Ga. She has incredible powers, and saves the day, but did not come out of nowhere to save the day. 

For reference, Dumbledore came in at .8Ga.
Hehe
Using Gandalf as a scale for measuring Deus Ex Machina.
I like it, and with your permission will adopt it for myself.

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!



Wilson Fowlie

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1475
    • The Maple Leaf Singers
Reply #71 on: November 02, 2010, 08:25:06 PM
If my kid has to perform age-appropriate chores to receive that allowance and stands to lose it if he/she doesn't, then I'm not enabling him/her to avoid responsibility. 

I disagree*: they can avoid the responsibility by giving up the reward that comes with it, just as I can quit my job and give up the pay and benefits.

The difference between a job and the child's situation is that, as a member of the household that generates the chores, the kid has an intrinsic responsibility to do those chores.  Part of that is because, regardless of allowance, they are still getting benefit - room, board, love, education, etc. - just from living there.

Another part of it is simply that it's an aspect of householding.  When you** live by yourself, you live as squalidly as you want to, but most people have a maximum squalor threshold.  It is to be hoped that if you live with someone else, that threshold comes down, and that it comes down even further if a child is introduced to the home.  (Note that, as a parent, I'm aware that actual squalor is liable to exceed parents' theoretical threshold at times.)

Anyway, part of being a household member is doing your share of the work involved to run it (however that's agreed upon by the parties involved).  No one gets paid for doing it; it's just what has to be done, including by children, when they're old enough.

By tying the allowance to the chores, you give the kid an excuse to opt out of chores whenever they want, at a relatively minor cost (given the benefits they get regardless).


... I think I can see a fork up ahead ...



*I don't disagree with your point about "We can save ourselves if we work hard enough," Scattercat, just the example you chose to illustrate it.

**Not referring to any specific 'you', here.

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham


Gamercow

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 654
Reply #72 on: November 02, 2010, 08:41:16 PM


Have you ever seen something >1.0 Ga? Or is Gandalf an absolute measurement, like Kelvin.

I have never seen >1.0 Ga.  Allanon, from the Shanara series, is .95 Ga, but none have passed the great wizard himself.  I believe Gandalf is like the speed of light, absolute, but others may prove me wrong.  :) 

And yes, feel free to use this for yourself! 

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


Scattercat

  • Caution:
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4904
  • Amateur wordsmith
    • Mirrorshards
Reply #73 on: November 02, 2010, 09:05:41 PM
Yeah, okay, chores aren't necessarily the best example.  I don't actually get to pay anyone in real life, though, and more people use the chores-payment scheme than actually manage businesses.  It's an imperfect analogy, but I wasn't trying for a full 1-to-1 equivalency, just a way to illustrate my point that, definitionally, a deus ex machina comes from nowhere and saves the day without cost, and thus anything that is paid for - even if the payment is rather off-screen - is not a deus ex machina and should not be critiqued as such.

This is a fuzzy realm, admittedly.  If my protagonist has a super-awesome secret agent car that can turn into basically anything he needs and I say somewhere in the introduction that it cost a bazillion squintillion dollars, I have not sufficiently justified the car to make it lose that taint of deus ex machina.  Perhaps a better phrase might be that anything that *costs* is not a deus ex machina, if the distinctino is clear. 

In this particular case, however, the cost is quite clear, and a fair part of the story is a meditation on the losses incurred and the meaning Duxa gains thereby.



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #74 on: November 03, 2010, 01:38:23 PM
And yes, feel free to use this for yourself! 

Awesome!  It is a very worthy measurement system.   ;D  Now I'm going to try to think of something that exceeds 1.0Ga...

How about the end of Monty Python and the Holy Grail?  Well, I guess that didn't really SOLVE anything, just truncated it...