Author Topic: EP423: Arena  (Read 15614 times)

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Reply #25 on: December 04, 2013, 06:42:12 PM
And this story invokes probably the most famous instance of champion warfare--David and Goliath. The winner in both stories even wins by knocking someone out with a rock!

Haha, this is the alternate version where David turns the sling upon himself to win!  :)

You could not write this story today without a lot more exploration of the idea of an unreliable narrator.  Did he pass out and hallucinate this?  Was it all in his head?

In this story, though, you just did not mess around with that idea.  "Did I just dream all that?  Let me check my scars.  Yup.  Got scars.  It totally happened."

A fun story and a neat blast from the past.  Holds up really well, I think.

I thought it held up well enough to a modern reading.  I think the scars are reasonable evidence that things happened.  I suppose one could say that he already had those scars from something else and had blanked out on that, but I don't think there's anything else in the story to support that conclusion which there should've been if unreliable narrator was a strong possibility.  Even if it were a hallucination, it was an entertaining one.



albionmoonlight

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Reply #26 on: December 04, 2013, 07:51:29 PM

You could not write this story today without a lot more exploration of the idea of an unreliable narrator.  Did he pass out and hallucinate this?  Was it all in his head?

In this story, though, you just did not mess around with that idea.  "Did I just dream all that?  Let me check my scars.  Yup.  Got scars.  It totally happened."

A fun story and a neat blast from the past.  Holds up really well, I think.

I thought it held up well enough to a modern reading.  I think the scars are reasonable evidence that things happened.  I suppose one could say that he already had those scars from something else and had blanked out on that, but I don't think there's anything else in the story to support that conclusion which there should've been if unreliable narrator was a strong possibility.  Even if it were a hallucination, it was an entertaining one.

I agree that the events of the story most definitely happened.  And that they were not in his head.

My point was that an author today would, I think, be more inclined to play with the idea of an unreliable narrator.  I could see this story being written in a way that the idea of "did it really happen" was left ambiguous.
 



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Reply #27 on: December 05, 2013, 02:51:46 AM
I enjoyed this story. I have actually never seen the Star Trek episode either, nor have I ever read this story before, so I remained unaware of the ending. The author did a really great job keeping up the engagement level, since this was essentially just a story of man and giant red ball walking (rolling) around in the blue sand throwing sticks at one another. I was among the group who was disappointed with the blind rage of the roller, although I find myself curious about where that anger came from; who knows what the human race may have done to this race of aliens to cause such hate from even an individual soldier. Nevertheless, I thought it was intriguing that it was actually the roller who discovered the initial way to get around the barrier and even made a working catapult out of practically nothing. The image of those little arms trying to put out a fire to save its creation actually made me laugh, though; I wonder if that makes me terrible?

All in all, fun story, great narration, and just a satisfying episode all around.


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Reply #28 on: December 06, 2013, 04:17:52 AM
Fantastic story -- I listened to it today on the way to see Ender's Game, and couldn't help but think about the parallels. 

Did anyone else think about the fact that if the lizards could communicate with the human . . . they probably could speak to the rolling ball alien as well . . . and could have acted as a translator?



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Reply #29 on: December 06, 2013, 02:40:08 PM
Did anyone else think about the fact that if the lizards could communicate with the human . . . they probably could speak to the rolling ball alien as well . . . and could have acted as a translator?

That did cross my mind, and I think that that was part of the test--the lizards were put there as a tool, just like the flint and bushes.



El Barto

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Reply #30 on: December 06, 2013, 06:56:46 PM
Did anyone else think about the fact that if the lizards could communicate with the human . . . they probably could speak to the rolling ball alien as well . . . and could have acted as a translator?

That did cross my mind, and I think that that was part of the test--the lizards were put there as a tool, just like the flint and bushes.

Grades available on exam:

A = use lizard to negotiate
C = knock self out, roll through barrier, kill opponent
F = torture lizard, get killed by C student





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Reply #31 on: December 06, 2013, 08:01:55 PM
Did anyone else think about the fact that if the lizards could communicate with the human . . . they probably could speak to the rolling ball alien as well . . . and could have acted as a translator?

That did cross my mind, and I think that that was part of the test--the lizards were put there as a tool, just like the flint and bushes.

Grades available on exam:

A = use lizard to negotiate
C = knock self out, roll through barrier, kill opponent
F = torture lizard, get killed by C student

:D

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Reply #32 on: December 09, 2013, 03:56:29 PM
Did anyone else think about the fact that if the lizards could communicate with the human . . . they probably could speak to the rolling ball alien as well . . . and could have acted as a translator?

That did cross my mind, and I think that that was part of the test--the lizards were put there as a tool, just like the flint and bushes.

Grades available on exam:

A = use lizard to negotiate
C = knock self out, roll through barrier, kill opponent
F = torture lizard, get killed by C student




I love it!  And not only is it funny, but given the circumstances, I think that's a reasonable guess at how the test might've been graded.  :)

I also wouldn't be entirely surprised if the superaliens helped make sure that he was the victor.  They are superpowerful in ways that are beyond his comprehension, so they could've make sure that he woke up fast enough to not be killed, etc.



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Reply #33 on: December 09, 2013, 06:01:40 PM
I'm finally getting caught up, so a little late to the party on this one. I've never see the ST episode or read this one before, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless.

About the lizards, I thought they were communicating with both the human and beach ball sides of the fight, but the story established early on that the beach balls had such strong mental mojo (what with the virulent hatred that constituted an assault on the protagonist) that they basically blocked out other creatures' thoughts, even though they were probably capable of receiving them. I thought it made for an interesting character flaw which plays a part in why the Roller loses the battle. If it had been able to stop and listen to the lizard for a moment, or even the human, it may have gained an advantage.

While I agree that human-empathy-as-superpower vs. the evil, unempathetic aliens is a bit cliched, part of me can't help but think that even by Earth standards, we primates really do shine in empathy and socialness, and these two traits are responsible for much of our success as a species. Animal domestication is, on one level, a giant exercise in our ability and desire to communicate and cooperate with (and perhaps by extension, dominate) other species. While you see interspecies cooperation all over the Tree of Life, on our planet at least, humans certainly lead the pack.

Finally, count me in with those who expected him to nap his way across the barrier. That was the only thing that really disappointed me, because there should be more stories in the world about tactical napping. :D

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Reply #34 on: December 09, 2013, 06:44:13 PM
stories in the world about tactical napping. :D

Tactical Napping:  yet another great band name.



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Reply #35 on: December 10, 2013, 05:16:52 PM
Hm, was I the only one that did not like this story? I mean, really did not like.

I could not get past the premise. It was about as intelligent as the plot of an adult film. The whole use of a god-like alien as a plot device drives me crazy. And this story had the worse kind, one where said alien is purely used as a device and nothing more. There is no subtly, no attempt to mask it. It is there only to force the story into the sweaty action.

Then we have the challenge, with its gigantic punishment and reward. I found it rather childish. This being is so powerful it can manipulate time. And how does it decide to resolve an intergalactic war? Why a barbaric fight-to-the-death in an arena, of course. And the loser's entire race is destroyed. This is the kind of story I would have thought up as a kid in elementary school.

I did like the puzzle of the barrier. That was interesting, and kept me from outright hating the story. Though his solution to get through made no sense to me. It is mortal combat. So let's knock myself out AND leave myself exposed. Huh? Lucky for our hero, the alien tossed rocks at him to wake him up (didn't it hear the voice say, "FINISH HIM").

I don't think "because it is from an earlier time in SF" is any excuse for the premise. I could accept that excuse to explain why a spaceman naturally has caveman survival skills. I could accept it for the cliche ending. But a weak premise? Nope, that's just lazy writing in my opinion.

On a lighter note. While everyone else was thinking Star Trek, I was picturing the Futurama "War is the H-word" episode...

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Reply #36 on: December 10, 2013, 05:22:13 PM
Then we have the challenge, with its gigantic punishment and reward. I found it rather childish. This being is so powerful it can manipulate time. And how does it decide to resolve an intergalactic war? Why a barbaric fight-to-the-death in an arena, of course. And the loser's entire race is destroyed. This is the kind of story I would have thought up as a kid in elementary school.

I don't disagree that the premise is contrived.  I think to really enjoy the story, you have to enjoy the rest of it enough to overlook that part.  If you can't do that, it's probably just not the story for you.

I would not at all say that the super-alien premise is plausible.  But for me it serves its purpose to set the stage and set the stakes.



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Reply #37 on: December 10, 2013, 05:40:45 PM
Then we have the challenge, with its gigantic punishment and reward. I found it rather childish. This being is so powerful it can manipulate time. And how does it decide to resolve an intergalactic war? Why a barbaric fight-to-the-death in an arena, of course. And the loser's entire race is destroyed. This is the kind of story I would have thought up as a kid in elementary school.

I don't disagree that the premise is contrived.  I think to really enjoy the story, you have to enjoy the rest of it enough to overlook that part.  If you can't do that, it's probably just not the story for you.

I would not at all say that the super-alien premise is plausible.  But for me it serves its purpose to set the stage and set the stakes.

I will confess that I tend not to like the older sci-fi stories. What I am being asked to accept on face value is often not on my list. Not my cup of herbal tea.

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Reply #38 on: December 10, 2013, 06:04:27 PM
The contrived premise doesn't really bother me, as I see it as a temporal artifact. This sort of omniscient alien/god and their penchant for conducting tests and occasionally meddling is also pretty prevalent in comic books of the era. I also love the contrast stories like these provide to those that conform to modern sensibilities and rules.

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Reply #39 on: December 15, 2013, 03:24:14 PM
It was fun to compare the original story with the Star Trek version. There was also a bit of "Enders Game," with the complete eradication of a species. That was the one disappointment I had with the story - there was no real exploration of the implications or morality of the situation imposed by the superior intelligences, which is the kind of thought experiment this story could have been.



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Reply #40 on: December 16, 2013, 09:41:52 AM
It would have had to continue way after where it ended, or start way before, or both.  At the point where it ended, the protagonist was the only human who even knew that it was ALL of the enemies who were dead.



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Reply #41 on: February 11, 2014, 08:05:09 AM
I enjoyed this episode. I did find it intriguing that it is credited with being, at least in part, as the source material for Star Trek's TOS episode 1-18: Arena. One of my favorites, and certainly one of the most recognizable episodes of the series.

Distinctive differences, well narrated, and some back story on inspirations to the best sf series of its time. All pluses.

Carson's conundrum peels the fleshy bits from a human hide to expose the instinctual nature that endures inside. Given a winner takes all inevitability, his immediate reaction was so replete with fear as to ask the roller if we can co-exist in peace. Once rebuked, it was on.

As efforts fail repeatedly by each opponent to gain advantage to destroy their enemy, Carson, though near delirium, relents to help a suffering lizard that he thought had previously met its demise at the end of the clawed tentacles of the roller (wait...the psilocybin is kicking in) by killing it. This marks the most significant difference between combatants, compassion. Lets not try to get too deep into that, he was tired, trippin' and annoyed that the other lizard was a chatty mo fo' trying to help his lizard bro. That sensibility was the most marked difference between the two.

This episode isn't that deep and I like to keep it that way.

Oh, BTW, and let me know if I did wrong. I posted on IMDB a link to the podcast, and attempted to introduce a new audience to escape artists.



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Reply #42 on: February 11, 2014, 03:16:08 PM
Oh, BTW, and let me know if I did wrong. I posted on IMDB a link to the podcast, and attempted to introduce a new audience to escape artists.
Linking far and wide to promo is almost never wrong from our side as long as it isn't spammy and irritating to the people at the place you're linking it. Link away!

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Reply #43 on: February 27, 2014, 12:16:19 AM
I was well disposed to this one as I like the original story despite its black and white morality, so the question was how good the reading would be.

Well it was excellent so good job all round.




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Reply #44 on: February 27, 2014, 05:04:21 PM
I was well disposed to this one as I like the original story despite its black and white morality, so the question was how good the reading would be.

Well it was excellent so good job all round.

Thanks for that, I was the narrator, and thought the story was a tough one to read aloud.



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Reply #45 on: April 09, 2014, 05:05:01 AM
 I have read quite a bit of classic SciFi, so I am quite surprised that I had never come across Frederi Brown. Thank you for the introduction! This was a well crafted story that I really enjoyed (even with the flaws that others have already mentioned).



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Reply #46 on: April 30, 2014, 11:17:03 AM
Yeah, I can see this being a classic. Sure, it's black and white and it has a ludicrously high-concept premise. But if you can't do that in Science Fiction, where can you ? If anything felt silly it was the telepathic contact with the roller. I guess if this had been written today, the author would not have felt the need to write in that, but let the aliens actions speak for it instead. But moral ambiguity was probably not something you wanted to play around with, given what was going on in 1944. And the battle itself is a really physical and very well written suspense piece. I was invested in this story in a way I very rarely is in stories about battle.



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Reply #47 on: May 01, 2014, 09:06:40 PM
I must have missed something about this one, because to me, it was cheesy as a fondue pot. For me, it read like poorly-written fanfic of some show I'd never heard of.  Overly simplistic, illogical in some points(time frames), irrational in others(knocking yourself out?  really?), and it was just really dull overall. 

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