Author Topic: EP350: Observer Effects  (Read 16657 times)

Listener

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Reply #25 on: July 03, 2012, 06:14:41 PM
I neither liked nor disliked the story. I liked that it was short enough that I didn't worry about having to shut it off halfway and missing something good (I'm so far behind on podcasts that I have to make harsh judgments of anything longer than one commute).

I liked Lesion -- liked her voice, her general unhappiness with being a good guy, her ruthless pragmatism. But I didn't really care too much for the storytelling per se -- which is to say, the way the piece was presented. Others have already discussed this in more detail, so I won't.

I enjoyed the narration, although it took a while to ignore the technical artifacts (sound quality).

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Reply #26 on: July 05, 2012, 01:39:27 PM
What I had a hard time with in this story was the heavy narration. In my opinion this story was way too much tell-don't-show. Granted, to show everything that happened the story would end up being a lot longer, possibly novel length. But would that be a bad thing? I wanted to see more interaction between these "superheroes". I wanted to see more of society's collapse, not just be told about it.

I agree with that, mostly just that I found the method of the time jumps disorienting.  A thousand words or more spent on one conversation, and then a paragraph jumps ahead years, and then back to the slower pace again.  I sorted it out, but every time the faster jumps happened I had to rewind in my head and sort out what just happened.



TheFunkeyGibbon

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Reply #27 on: July 06, 2012, 02:49:07 PM
I felt that the biggest problem with this story was the authors reputation. Tim Pratt's work is astounding and stands head and shoulders above a lot of many authors featured on the various PODcasts.

So when I listened to this and found it to be only 'OK' I realised just how much expectation I've placed on Tim. It's terribly unfair but I think he should take it as a compliment. I feel about this as I did about Prometheus and that puts my level of expectation at the same as I have for Ridley Scott, which really, if you think about it isn't an unflattering comparison... :)



olivaw

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Reply #28 on: July 06, 2012, 09:57:22 PM
I really liked this one.
It did exactly what I want SF to do - which is to follow ideas around, and hang enough story off them to give them a human edge, without cluttering things up with car-chases.

In particular, it fits nicely into a personal SF axis mundi of mine which includes The Dead Past, The Stars My Destination and Wikileaks. I may disagree with Tim Pratt, and agree with the provocatively-named Liberator, about the privacy stuff, but I'm glad he wrote about it so entertainingly.

Incidentally, the dodgy neuropsychology can probably be justified because it's clearly in the Comic Book genre. It's the kind of misunderstanding of science Stan Lee would throw into a story. (Ok, not so great for improving understanding of our fellow man, but it's the first step on a learning curve, and meanwhile LOOK! SPACE DINOSAURS!)



Thomas

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Reply #29 on: July 07, 2012, 02:25:54 PM
The more i read comments about this story, the more i like the story. people are complaining about the narrative aspect/type, its use or abuse or whatever. the story just works, it is a different perspective. i do not believe i have heard a superhero story as told by a former villain turning to villainy again. other than my first objection to the explanation of the observation effect, i truly enjoyed this one. nay sayers, get over it. the mistating of facts happens. happens all the time in all fiction. you over look that aspect and just enjoy the story.

Enjoy and be nice to each other, because "WE" is all we got.


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Reply #30 on: July 09, 2012, 01:58:38 PM
nay sayers, get over it. the mistating of facts happens. happens all the time in all fiction. you over look that aspect and just enjoy the story.

But what will pedants like myself do with our time?  :)   

The thing about this age of plentiful information is that it's easy to look up shallow information about many topics, such as the basic symptoms of a documented condition like this.  And especially when the condition you're describing is held by some segment of the population who will be very excited if you get their perspective right, that matters.  I'm not saying that a mistake like that makes a story irredeemable, but it is a knock against it.



Thomas

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Reply #31 on: July 09, 2012, 06:24:50 PM

The thing about this age of plentiful information is that it's easy to look up shallow information about many topics, such as the basic symptoms of a documented condition like this.  And especially when the condition you're describing is held by some segment of the population who will be very excited if you get their perspective right, that matters.  I'm not saying that a mistake like that makes a story irredeemable, but it is a knock against it.


I concede to your point, but the story still works, even with that flaw. if the author had the correct info on this particular condition, there may have been some parts of the story that would be changed to fit the proper data, but the story would work the same. the outcome and how we get there would not have changed, just some of the faces in the scenery would have looked different.

Enjoy and be nice to each other, because "WE" is all we got.


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Reply #32 on: July 10, 2012, 01:57:54 PM
I concede to your point, but the story still works, even with that flaw. if the author had the correct info on this particular condition, there may have been some parts of the story that would be changed to fit the proper data, but the story would work the same. the outcome and how we get there would not have changed, just some of the faces in the scenery would have looked different.

I agree.  This wasn't my favorite story, but that had more to do with the summary sections between the narrative sections than anything.  And, TheFunkeyGibbon hit it on the head, that I have high expectations of Tim Pratt because he has written so many stories that I really love, so when he writes a story that I just think is fair-to-middlin' it looks much worse in comparison.



Thomas

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Reply #33 on: July 10, 2012, 03:51:45 PM


I have high expectations of Tim Pratt because he has written so many stories that I really love, so when he writes a story that I just think is fair-to-middlin' it looks much worse in comparison.


Let's beat him up.... J/K


Enjoy and be nice to each other, because "WE" is all we got.


ThomasTheAttoney

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Reply #34 on: July 11, 2012, 04:14:44 PM
TheFunkeyGibbon hit it on the head, that I have high expectations of Tim Pratt because he has written so many stories that I really love, so when he writes a story that I just think is fair-to-middlin' it looks much worse in comparison. 

Pratt's work is usually so very good.  This seemed rushed.  His character development was more wordy than usual, like he did not have time to edit the extraneous stuff.  And the "every body went crazy" was bizarre, meaningless, and took me out of the story.  How about "nobody did anything but stayed home and spied on their friends and neighbors"?   That would be more likely and just as bad.

Thank you.



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Reply #35 on: July 11, 2012, 04:24:06 PM
I thought it was cool that Blind Io (as Pratchett would call him) was named what he was.  "Argus" would have worked as well--The Sioux Falls SD newspaper is called the Argus Leader which I think is neat.  And also creepy.



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Reply #36 on: July 11, 2012, 10:57:10 PM
I usually skip stories with superheros, but I'm glad I didn't do that with this one. It was great; full of really interesting ideas, told at a good pace, and with a nice twist in the tail.

Looks like I'll now be revisiting those other superhero stories. Don't want to miss 'em if they're as good as this.



bluetube

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Reply #37 on: July 14, 2012, 08:50:30 PM
Didn't like this at all. I assume it was supposed to be humorous, but that didn't stop the ridiculous premise of the story standing out like a sore thumb. The idea that one person would be so self-righteous as to believe they could decide something for all humanity. The total loss of personal privacy... what a surprise to find that people didn't like it the change!

On top of that, the concept of loss of privacy is not new in science-fiction. There was an Outer Limits episode (based on a short story, I think) in which an alien race gives humans the technology to see into the past at any location they choose. This seems wonderful at first, until people realise they can see the actions of people just a fraction of a second in the past. As a result all privacy is lost and everyone looses the will to live (or something... I don't recall the details).

Also, the style of the story seemed immature (or perhaps it was the reader's delivery?), as if it was written in a hurry by a high school student who forgot to do the work at the weekend.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2012, 09:56:00 AM by bluetube »



Talia

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Reply #38 on: July 14, 2012, 09:01:43 PM
Some people did like it actually, because people have different tastes in fiction. If you read the thread you'll see its a mix, and everyone had their own reasons for liking or not liking it.

You could probably make the "well, its not new!!" argument of 99.9999999999999999999999999999% of any and all stories written ever. What counts, imho, is the delivery. For me, it worked, for you it didn't. So it goes. :) I just personally don't buy into the "every story has to introduce something new to the field" argument, because I've read plenty of good tales that haven't.





bluetube

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Reply #39 on: July 15, 2012, 08:05:10 AM
Some people did like it actually, because people have different tastes in fiction. If you read the thread you'll see its a mix, and everyone had their own reasons for liking or not liking it.

You could probably make the "well, its not new!!" argument of 99.9999999999999999999999999999% of any and all stories written ever. What counts, imho, is the delivery. For me, it worked, for you it didn't. So it goes. :) I just personally don't buy into the "every story has to introduce something new to the field" argument, because I've read plenty of good tales that haven't.

I realise that tastes vary. I was merely expressing my thoughts on the story... That's why we're here, isn't it?  ???

I agree that it's not true that every story has to introduce something new, if it's done with style and some added twists.

I generally enjoy EscapePod stories.... this was an exception to the rule.   8)

By the way, I think this is the Outer Limits episode: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O.B.I.T
« Last Edit: July 15, 2012, 08:59:53 AM by bluetube »



bluetube

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Reply #40 on: July 15, 2012, 10:00:54 AM
Some people did like it actually...

Re-reading my and your posts, I realise you misunderstood the subject of "it" in my phrase "what a surprise to find that people didn't like it?"

The "it" in question was the loss of privacy, not the story itself.  ;D

I guess that explains your assumption that I had not read the thread.  :-X  I've clarified that in my original comment.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2012, 10:02:34 AM by bluetube »



olivaw

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Reply #41 on: July 15, 2012, 11:16:43 AM
By the way, I think this is the Outer Limits episode: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O.B.I.T

Interesting, that's a very similar story (especially your retelling of it) to Asimov's The Dead Past.

As for one person making a unilateral decision about the fate of mankind - remember, this is a genre which includes Superman and Ozymandias.



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Reply #42 on: July 16, 2012, 03:36:10 PM
I assume it was supposed to be humorous

I didn't make that assumption

The idea that one person would be so self-righteous as to believe they could decide something for all humanity.

I had no trouble believing that AT ALL. There are plenty of people so self-righteous enough to think they know best for everybody.

And they often run for office.



Talia

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Reply #43 on: July 16, 2012, 03:55:52 PM
Some people did like it actually...

Re-reading my and your posts, I realise you misunderstood the subject of "it" in my phrase "what a surprise to find that people didn't like it?"

The "it" in question was the loss of privacy, not the story itself.  ;D

I guess that explains your assumption that I had not read the thread.  :-X  I've clarified that in my original comment.

Ah ok. Sorry for misunderstanding.



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Reply #44 on: July 16, 2012, 04:18:35 PM
You could probably make the "well, its not new!!" argument of 99.9999999999999999999999999999% of any and all stories written ever.

Yes, very true.  If we were required to be entirely novel in fiction, then we just wouldn't have any new fiction.  And that would make me sad.   :'(



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Reply #45 on: July 25, 2012, 01:13:19 PM
This one missed the mark for me.  Seemed like an info dump/socratic dialogue more than an actual story to me. It seemed to be a story sprouted from a singular idea(face blindness) rather than something that grew organically.

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Reply #46 on: July 26, 2012, 08:30:16 PM
The biggest flaw about this story for me was that the Liberator, who was supposed to be so moral and uncorruptable that he was made the leader dictator of the group, could be so dumb.

I'm not the brightest bulb when it comes to understanding human motivations and behaviours, but even I could have told you that "spying on demand" and "face-blinding the entire population" were not such a good idea. So, the fact that the Liberator couldn't see this threw me out of my willing suspension of disbelief.



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Reply #47 on: July 27, 2012, 02:01:41 PM
The biggest flaw about this story for me was that the Liberator, who was supposed to be so moral and uncorruptable that he was made the leader dictator of the group, could be so dumb.

I'm not the brightest bulb when it comes to understanding human motivations and behaviours, but even I could have told you that "spying on demand" and "face-blinding the entire population" were not such a good idea. So, the fact that the Liberator couldn't see this threw me out of my willing suspension of disbelief.

I figured that the Liberator might be toward the functional end of the autistic spectrum.  Or an engineer.  Or both. 

I worked with a guy until recently who has a PhD, dozens of published papers, very smart guy, but who has the social niceties of a badger.  After years of working with the guy, I think that he's not actually a jerk in that he's not acting that way through malice or carelessness.  He just doesn't understand how other people will react, at all.  He's very at home with his numbers and computations and algorithms, but he is pretty much guaranteed to offend people on an hourly basis without even realizing it, and if someone explains it to him, he might try to change his actions but doesn't understand why they got the reaction they did.  In some ways he kind of reminds me of Sheldon Cooper, but without a team of writers making sure that what he says would be funny to an outside viewer.

So, the Liberator totally made sense to me, with that kind of personality at his core.  A genius on many levels, who can make amazing new inventions, yet finds himself completely incapable of accurately predicting anyone's reaction to them.



CryptoMe

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Reply #48 on: July 27, 2012, 04:17:04 PM
The biggest flaw about this story for me was that the Liberator, who was supposed to be so moral and uncorruptable that he was made the leader dictator of the group, could be so dumb.

I'm not the brightest bulb when it comes to understanding human motivations and behaviours, but even I could have told you that "spying on demand" and "face-blinding the entire population" were not such a good idea. So, the fact that the Liberator couldn't see this threw me out of my willing suspension of disbelief.

I figured that the Liberator might be toward the functional end of the autistic spectrum.  Or an engineer.  Or both. 

I worked with a guy until recently who has a PhD, dozens of published papers, very smart guy, but who has the social niceties of a badger.  After years of working with the guy, I think that he's not actually a jerk in that he's not acting that way through malice or carelessness.  He just doesn't understand how other people will react, at all.  He's very at home with his numbers and computations and algorithms, but he is pretty much guaranteed to offend people on an hourly basis without even realizing it, and if someone explains it to him, he might try to change his actions but doesn't understand why they got the reaction they did.  In some ways he kind of reminds me of Sheldon Cooper, but without a team of writers making sure that what he says would be funny to an outside viewer.

So, the Liberator totally made sense to me, with that kind of personality at his core.  A genius on many levels, who can make amazing new inventions, yet finds himself completely incapable of accurately predicting anyone's reaction to them.

Yeah, the description of your former colleague kinda describes me too. Which is why I am perplexed as to why the Liberator can't see this if I can ;)

Also, the Liberator is supposed to be immensely moral. Even someone who doesn't understand other people's motivations should understand that these actions are not very moral, at best.

BTW, not understanding people often has nothing to do with not being able to predict what they will do in a given situation. More frequently it has to do with predicting up to *thousands* of things that people might do in a given situation and then not being able to figure out which of those is most likely. Given that, the Liberator should have seen all of the many ways his plan could have gone wrong...



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Reply #49 on: July 27, 2012, 04:30:18 PM
Also, the Liberator is supposed to be immensely moral. Even someone who doesn't understand other people's motivations should understand that these actions are not very moral, at best.

I didn't think he was actually supposed to BE moral, rather that he has gone to great pains to represent himself as being moral (and perhaps trying to convince himself as well).  He seemed to be much more interested in trying make society as a whole exist as well as possible, completely disregarding individuals.

BTW, not understanding people often has nothing to do with not being able to predict what they will do in a given situation. More frequently it has to do with predicting up to *thousands* of things that people might do in a given situation and then not being able to figure out which of those is most likely. Given that, the Liberator should have seen all of the many ways his plan could have gone wrong...

That's a very good point.