Author Topic: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle  (Read 23141 times)

Frungi

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Reply #25 on: July 03, 2013, 04:16:55 PM
Narrativium… I have got to start reading Discworld.



Windup

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Reply #26 on: July 04, 2013, 02:10:01 AM

I was impressed by the craftsmanship of this story.  The author earned the right to info dump by making it engaging, pulling us along with the ship's slow descent from luxury yacht to scrap with just enough emotional detail to draw us in.  By the time the main narrative really gathers steam, the world is so fully realized that I felt we could have followed any of the characters and had an interesting story.  That possibility gave the story he did tell both richness and tension.  I did not see where it was headed until the very end, even though the author plainly gave me the chance to figure it out by describing how human brains were used in the first ships. "Surprising, yet inevitable." -- the very best kind of ending.  :D

Like others, I'd love more stories of "Denali Eu and Nerissa the Silver Captain." If I didn't have both digital and physical bookshelves overflowing with unread volumes, I'd pick up his anthology.  Maybe by Christmas... 

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


MasterZap

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Reply #27 on: July 05, 2013, 07:36:38 PM
If you managed to sit through this story - it was amazing. But what was really SAD, was that the main problem with the story is soooo easily "fixed".

Basically, we have to survive a huge long infodump in the beginning, then we get to the exciting card game part, and then we have our metal heroine tell our hero the backstory. Which is over and done with in a sentence or two (coz we already did it in the beginning).

The fix is SO trivial: Start at the cardgame. Guy wins metal chick. Now metal chick gives him and us the backstory!! Et voilá, as they say in Spain (Or was it Portugal?), story structure fixed, no massive info-dump, better flow, better hook to get us into the story!!

But I liked it as is. I would just have likeinated it morerer if it been betterificated as per the abovination.

/Z



Cynandre

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Reply #28 on: July 05, 2013, 09:57:55 PM
My kind of Love Story. That's it.

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Devoted135

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Reply #29 on: July 06, 2013, 04:24:22 PM
I didn't mind the "info-dump" at the beginning, because it was presenting a really interesting premise in an engaging way. It also flowed seamlessly into Nerissa's story, which I confess that I got really wrapped up in. When I think about all that she went through, and all of the forms that she embodied over her lifetime, it adds up to a pretty incredible story. :)


...even with so much buildup, this feels like just the beginning of the story. What I really want to read about are the adventures of the Ship with the Human Mind and Metal Captain. Does anyone know if these two play any roles in other stories of David's anthology?

I'm would also like to know the answer to this. :)



PrimerofinTheSequel

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Reply #30 on: July 08, 2013, 12:33:21 AM
Did I miss something? Anything?  Did anything actually happen?

This seemed like an origin story.

What exactly did the fabulous eagle bird space plane human craft actually do?



Frungi

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Reply #31 on: July 08, 2013, 01:13:23 AM
Did I miss something? Anything?  Did anything actually happen?

This seemed like an origin story.

Answered your own question there, I think! :P Yeah, the origin happened. And whoever’s keeping score, add in my vote for more stories of their adventures.



TheArchivist

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Reply #32 on: July 08, 2013, 09:51:34 AM
Strange. All these people finding fault for so many different reasons.

It's infodumpy : true, if what you're looking for is an excuse to complain about info dumps. But actually that's a well-established traditional form widely used in verbal traditions. See folk tales.

It's only the beginning : true, if you're intent on finding fault with lack of completeness. But ALL stories are partial, even massive ten-book fantasy epics. The short form is all about bringing out a coherent part of the greater whole, and this stroy did that superbly.

It's just like Anne McCaffrey : true, in many ways. On the other hand, The Ship Who Sang was by no means totally 100% original and unlike anything that went before. All stories are reminiscent of something else - it's inherent in the human condition.

The final twist was predictable : yes, it was. By some people, but clearly not others. I saw it coming. But who cares? All stories are predictable at some point - the skillful author does not leave the reader in the dark. I can't remember who I heard say it, but "Don't leave them guessing - make them think they could finish the story themselves, just do it better than they would"

It's rather like Orson Scott Card : well, yes. See above re: Anne McCaffrey

The physics / engineering was silly : probably. But the anthology is called "Space Magic" for pity's sake! Heck, the physics / engineering is a story device and it works great for this story.

Me, I loved it. Thank you, Escape Pod.



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Reply #33 on: July 08, 2013, 03:28:57 PM
I didn't care for it.  I'm not opposed to a folktale style story, but this one failed to make me give a crap at any point.  The way that it was written made it seem that it was being told to me at some point after the silver captain and the human-mind ship became a well-known tale, and this was telling the origin of the tale.  But I didn't really care about the origin of that tale-that-I'd-never-heard because I'd never heard the tale. 

Otherwise, I could potentially be interested in the origin story in it's own right, but to me the characters didn't feel at all real to me, and felt nothing more than narrative setpieces to get to the end of the story.

I do like David D. Levine's narrations though.  I saw a reading of his at WorldCon 2012 where he read a story narrated by a mad scientist.  He slipped into character so easily it kind of scared me a bit.  Besides the reading, he has such convincing crazy eyes that I'm half-sure that crazy-eyes are his default setting and he has to mask when he's not reading a crazy-eyes story.



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Reply #34 on: July 09, 2013, 12:15:25 AM
I loved this story. I can see where people could say that the beginning was info-dumpy, but I disagree with that sentiment. My favorite part of sci-fi is the story of new technologies (even though I super non-techy) and how they shape the world they are in. This story did this in a sweet way, and I felt for the two characters and their places in life. Sure, the ending may have been a bit predictable and sappy, but that was exactly what I wanted out of this story, and I am so glad the author delivered. I don't know what other resolution I could have been given that would've left such a big smile on my face and a hungering for more about these two. Thumbs up from this listener!

Stories like this remind me of early Pixar movies; take something predictable in a genre, give it a little twist, then tell the story incredibly well. It may be something we've seen before, but it's so well done, such a good example of that particular story, that we don't mind.

Also, very much enjoyed the narration. Soft, clean, easy to listen to; like your dad telling you a bed time story.


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Reply #35 on: July 09, 2013, 12:42:42 AM
Oh, my. Am I the only one who got a Cordwainer Smith vibe from this story? Bits of The Ballad of Lost C'Mell, The Game of Rat and Dragon, and many more of the Instrumentality of Mankind stories. Even the names had the taste of Smith. And the wonderful conceit of 'namedropping' characters and technologies and events left unexplained, just to add color.
It even had that melancholy feel that pervades so many of Smith's stories.



Windup

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Reply #36 on: July 09, 2013, 01:08:28 AM
If you managed to sit through this story - it was amazing. But what was really SAD, was that the main problem with the story is soooo easily "fixed".

Basically, we have to survive a huge long infodump in the beginning, then we get to the exciting card game part, and then we have our metal heroine tell our hero the backstory. Which is over and done with in a sentence or two (coz we already did it in the beginning).

The fix is SO trivial: Start at the cardgame. Guy wins metal chick. Now metal chick gives him and us the backstory!! Et voilá, as they say in Spain (Or was it Portugal?), story structure fixed, no massive info-dump, better flow, better hook to get us into the story!!


I disagree with you, MasterZap.  Part of the reason the card game was exciting was that we knew both parties had a lot to lose -- the merchant could lose his long struggle against bankruptcy, disgrace and slavery, or our metal heroine gets sold for precious-metal scrap.  That tension existed only because we knew enough about both of them to care.  (Or, alternately, think "How is the author going to get out of this one?"  Depends on how you approach these things...)

Anyway, tell the tale after the fact, and the card game isn't nearly as interesting. 

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


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Reply #37 on: July 09, 2013, 05:14:09 AM
I liked how he never just dropped a simile and left it there, he always ran with it a little bit. 

The only thing that kind of killed my suspension of disbelief was the idea that the protagonist could so simply have his own brain swapped in place of one that was grown for the purpose, into an interface designed to fit that other brain. 

I also wondered why selling all the glitter and geegaw from the body but leaving it functional, and creating some kind of adapter to plug the ship in without removing the brain from the body never occurred to Denali.



adrianh

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Reply #38 on: July 09, 2013, 08:07:06 AM
Oh, my. Am I the only one who got a Cordwainer Smith vibe from this story?

No - see http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=7231.msg115980#msg115980 ;-)



TheArchivist

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Reply #39 on: July 09, 2013, 09:29:26 AM
If you managed to sit through this story - it was amazing. But what was really SAD, was that the main problem with the story is soooo easily "fixed".

I disagree with you, MasterZap. 
....
Anyway, tell the tale after the fact, and the card game isn't nearly as interesting. 

This is a good point, and a fairly general one. It's so easy, after the fact, to look at a story and say "I wasn't really into it until this point, so start it there" - indeed it's a common statement in critique groups I've been in. It's usually wrong, and if the author does as s/he is advised, the story still suffers the same problem. Fundamentally, the reason you got "into" the story at point x is NOT that point x is particularly spectacular or interesting. The reason is that by the time you reach point x you have got to know the characters, the universe, well enough to care.



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Reply #40 on: July 09, 2013, 12:31:24 PM
I also wondered why selling all the glitter and geegaw from the body but leaving it functional, and creating some kind of adapter to plug the ship in without removing the brain from the body never occurred to Denali.

I wondered that too. 



evrgrn_monster

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Reply #41 on: July 10, 2013, 01:06:33 AM
I also wondered why selling all the glitter and geegaw from the body but leaving it functional, and creating some kind of adapter to plug the ship in without removing the brain from the body never occurred to Denali.

I wondered that too. 

Me too. How much would a few of those ruby fingernails have gotten him? Seemed like a simple solution.


bounceswoosh

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Reply #42 on: July 10, 2013, 10:07:22 PM
I loved this story, except maybe the ending, because I was expecting a tragedy; even though I desperately wanted everything to work out for Nerissa, somehow the way it did work out lacked oomph for me.  I didn't dislike it, but it suffered in comparison to he first 98% of the story, which absolutely enthralled me.

I don't really get complaints about info dump, because it didn't feel like an info dump to me.  An info dump is where you, as a reader, notice that the author is unloading a bunch of background on you because it's done in a clumsy way that obviously is meant to inform the reader rather than tell the story.  To me, all the events leading up to the game weren't info dump; they were the story.  Nerissa's story.

I thought it was interesting that the story called out lack of sex organs in Nerissa's body as cruel; given her intended usage as a plaything for a rich man, and given that she'd spent her entire life a slave, I was relieved that she wouldn't be exposed to that avenue of exploitation - or maybe more accurately, that I wouldn't be exposed to listening to a story about it.

There were definitely holes in the technology and the explanations/justifications, but they didn't strain my credulity so much as to catapult me out of the story; rather, I experienced this story as a fairy tale with sci-fi trappings.  I'm having some refrigerator moments right now - if they could extend a bird's effective lifetime indefinitely, wouldn't there be at least some humans who would opt for a mechanical body in exchange for eternal life, and wouldn't that be a pretty major feature of this society? hmmmm ...






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Reply #43 on: July 11, 2013, 05:01:49 AM
Oh, that reminds me.
The people in this universe thought it not OK to put somebody's brain on the keel of a ship. But it was OK to take a golden eagle, upgrade the brain to human levels, and then stick it onto the keel of a starship (did they use duct tape?).
Not cool in my book.
But they probably didn't think too highly of synthetic intelligences, so....

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TheArchivist

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Reply #44 on: July 11, 2013, 10:45:18 AM
Oh, that reminds me.
The people in this universe thought it not OK to put somebody's brain on the keel of a ship. But it was OK to take a golden eagle, upgrade the brain to human levels, and then stick it onto the keel of a starship (did they use duct tape?).
Not cool in my book.
But they probably didn't think too highly of synthetic intelligences, so....
Yes, but the narrator did say, in the backstory bit, that this was considered a barbaric ancient attitude in retrospect (one of the "you may think" bits).
Actually that's a topic that isn't often explored. My brother was musing a little while back on our tendency to look at the past and say "weren't those <insert-historical-period> barbaric with the way they treated <insert-group>" while completely forgetting that the historical people in question looked back at their predecessors in the same way. He predicted, and I fully agree, that our descendents will look back on us and see our attitudes as barbaric, in ways we can guess at and ways we can't. I liked the way (the early part of) this story picked up on that.



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Reply #45 on: July 11, 2013, 12:56:23 PM
Oh, that reminds me.
The people in this universe thought it not OK to put somebody's brain on the keel of a ship. But it was OK to take a golden eagle, upgrade the brain to human levels, and then stick it onto the keel of a starship (did they use duct tape?).
Not cool in my book.
But they probably didn't think too highly of synthetic intelligences, so....
Yes, but the narrator did say, in the backstory bit, that this was considered a barbaric ancient attitude in retrospect (one of the "you may think" bits).
Actually that's a topic that isn't often explored. My brother was musing a little while back on our tendency to look at the past and say "weren't those <insert-historical-period> barbaric with the way they treated <insert-group>" while completely forgetting that the historical people in question looked back at their predecessors in the same way. He predicted, and I fully agree, that our descendents will look back on us and see our attitudes as barbaric, in ways we can guess at and ways we can't. I liked the way (the early part of) this story picked up on that.

The whole basis of the story was that the ship he was making was unique because they didn't enslave any species' brains anymore because it was considered barbaric. When he found a prepared brain box -- something that was not supposed to exist anymore -- he thought he understood that it actually wanted to fly among the stars. He thought maybe he knew something the whole rest of the world didn't and he leveraged his whole future on that. When he found out his thinking was erred -- that the eagle brain /did/ like to fly among the stars, but even that was not enough to make up for the pain of the connection -- he decided to sacrifice himself rather than harm this other sentient creature.

Don't think for a minute that we're advanced beyond the crudest estimation of what you describe. I don't think there's a government in the world today that wouldn't line up 1% of it's population and summarily execute them in exchange for the strategic/economic/scientific advantages that could be gained by making a leap of magnitude like the upgrade to the bird ships offered in this story.



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Reply #46 on: July 11, 2013, 07:13:56 PM
Put me down as absolutely loving this story. As others have commented, it had an old SF vibe to it that I absolutely adored. I loved the feeling of unfathomable deep time that this story evoked by the long infodump at the beginning and the uplifting, unspecified ending that the pair had many great adventures made me smile. I found the narration excellent. I was just starting to see the solution to Denali and Nerissa's problem when the author dropped it on me, which was perfect. These are the stories I read in my youth, and it's nice to occasionally find fresh ones.



Just Jeff

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Reply #47 on: July 12, 2013, 01:42:28 AM
I loved this story, mostly because the narration was beautiful. My biggest problem was the ending. My response was, really? That's your solution? As others have mentioned, seemed like there were other options to be explored.

And once the decision was made, seemed like things were wrapped up in a couple of hasty paragraphs and we're done. Not very satisfying, that.



Windup

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Reply #48 on: July 12, 2013, 02:39:00 AM
Oh, that reminds me.
The people in this universe thought it not OK to put somebody's brain on the keel of a ship. But it was OK to take a golden eagle, upgrade the brain to human levels, and then stick it onto the keel of a starship (did they use duct tape?).
Not cool in my book.
But they probably didn't think too highly of synthetic intelligences, so....

Yes, but it's not your book, and that's the point. ;)

As others have mentioned, the narrator noted that this belief in a difference between what was OK to do to synthetic and natural intelligences was something that had passed away by the narrator's time, and was viewed as a strange aspect of an earlier civilization. Much the way we view, say, combat in the Roman arena. I thought the author used this as a clever way of showing the distance in time between the different periods of the story. 

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


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Reply #49 on: July 18, 2013, 04:19:11 PM
Let's see...
 • Sentient starships... check.
 • Epic legendary style incongruously mixed with a science fiction setting... check.
 • Questions of morality, duty, destiny, and identity... check.
 • Excellent pacing, craft, and narration... check, check, and check.

Thanks for producing a story just for me!

Seriously, I loved this one. I love everything about this story, from the nonstandard science fiction setting to the supporting character's three increasingly dramatic choices, all leading up to the final terrible choice. The storytelling tone really drew me in, creating the feeling that I was learning more details about a story that I already knew, but didn't remember just now. It was splendid.

I will definitely investigate this author's ebook.

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