Author Topic: EP423: Arena  (Read 15828 times)

eytanz

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on: November 24, 2013, 05:55:11 PM
EP423: Arena

by Fredric Brown

Read by Bill Bowman

--

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: December 13, 2013, 01:08:09 PM by Talia »



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Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 11:46:31 AM
Fredric Brown is a taste of nostalgia.  His are the stories I read when first getting into science fiction.  Dated as they are, I love his short stories to pieces, and I can only hope there are other old geezers like myself listening out there.

I'd read Arena before, so the surprise ending was no surprise.  Still, this one stands as a perfect example of his writing style.  Set up what seems to be an unsolvable dilemma and solve it through unconventional means.  There was always some kind of satisfying twist to all of his short stories.

One very short story in particular, Nightmare in Blue, resonates with me decades later as one of the most horrifying scenarios I've ever read, especially so after having kids.


darkgumby

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Reply #2 on: November 25, 2013, 06:49:15 PM
I first read this story in 1980 or so and it is still one of my favorites.

One of the things that most fascinated me about this story is the roller. I've always wondered how it was possible for it to shift it's center of gravity to move.
I've come up with an idea that I think is viable. I wonder if my idea is obvious or unique. I'd like to see some other ideas before I share mine.



matweller

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Reply #3 on: November 25, 2013, 08:54:08 PM
Really, you only need a way to shift weight either by constant muscle contraction like a snake, or by some interior back-and-forth motion.



adrianh

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Reply #4 on: November 26, 2013, 05:50:07 AM
Ah. An old favourite of mine read wonderfully. First read this back in my early teens in a Reader's Digest imprint of the story.

Oh look. The googles have found the illustration from that edition!




towrofterra

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Reply #5 on: November 26, 2013, 07:29:31 AM
First off, let me just get one thing clear; I liked this story immensely, even without having seen the referred Star Trek episode. However, I found the attitude of the roller towards humanity as almost childish. There is no reasoning behind it, just pure destruction. I think it was an excuse not to delve too deeply into an alien mind. This could be taken as lazy, or as an ingenious plot device to stop us from understanding, and therefore possibly sympathizing, with the Roller.



matweller

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Reply #6 on: November 26, 2013, 02:42:53 PM
Or it could just be that the story was told from the point of view of the scared, frantic human who didn't know much about the alien, and when the alien made it's intent to go ahead with the kill-or-be-killed scenario, he was forced to do likewise. If anything, the offense for me is either that there was no reckoning for the 3rd party alien that put them in the arena or that the sole criterion for determining your race's right to survive is which representative lives.

I mean, the alien has an opportunity to play Solomon with this lesson and at the moment of death, freeze everything and say, "[to the victor] is becoming the one responsible for the eradication of a sentient species really what you want? [to the loser] Would you want to chance everything you know and care about on warring with these aliens? No? Then go back and stop this foolishness before it begins." But instead it's just might-makes-right, have a nice day simplicity. There's a primitive beauty in it, but it feels hollow.

That said, it was a simple, cute, short story and I enjoyed it. I'm also VERY happy with how well Bill did reading it.



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Reply #7 on: November 26, 2013, 03:34:04 PM
Wow.
When Bill started reading I got the sense of familiarity, of "I've been here before". But I couldn't quite place it. I thought maybe I had seen the ST episode... but then the description of the blue sand trickling onto his bare thigh brought it all home to me. I READ THIS STORY! AND I LOVED IT!
Something about the image that I conjured in my mind must've called back an identical image placed there long ago. This must have been more than 20 years ago, and I don't even remember where I had read it, but it all came back in a flash. That didn't detract from my enjoyment of this episode though.
One thing that did disturb me this time around was, why does the entity care whether these two species destroy each other? Do we care that ant colonies and termite colonies destroy each other all the time? No.
But then the entity explained that one day the human race might also achieve this gestalt super-mind-entity. And I thought, "Aww, all of the multidimensional timespace lie at this entity's metaphorical feet and yet it's lonely."
So, add that to what Alasdair said about the real test, and you get a pretty deep piece layered in there.
Now excuse me, I'm going to check my anthologies for more Fredrick Brown.

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matweller

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Reply #8 on: November 26, 2013, 07:50:51 PM
You may want to look for "Fredric" Brown too. ;)

See also http://tinyurl.com/ofuxtvj



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Reply #9 on: November 27, 2013, 12:14:58 AM
I really enjoyed this story. As a youngish science fiction reader, I haven't read as many of the classic authors that I should, and it's fun to read the stories that established many of the themes that are common in fiction now. I thought it was great timing that this story was featured around the same time that Ender's Game and Catching Fire are playing in the theaters, since it feels almost like a stripped-down, simplified version of the combination of the two. There's something in the raw immediacy and simplicity of the story that makes it feel almost cutting edge, even though I know that there are "dated" elements. I was actually happy that there was no empathy for the other race, and no sense that violence wasn't inevitable. It feels refreshing in the current context where the "other" is often painted with empathy even as the main character kills them.
On the more technical side, I thought Brown's pacing was excellent. He pulled off the use of the main character's falling in and out of consciousness as a way of marking the passage of time, without sounding corny or forced. Usually, when I read stories of characters going in and out of consciousness, it feels like a cop out, especially when they bounce back right as rain afterwards. Here, the loss of consciousness becomes a pivotal device in the story.
I was unhappy when the roller tortured the lizard creature because it seemed like a lazy way to emphasize the rollers monstrosity. However, I can partially forgive him because the tortured lizard also becomes an integrated part of the story, and the other lizard doesn't magically fix everything for the human because he acted mercifully. I wonder if we're meant to think the lizards were controlled by the mysterious entity?



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Reply #10 on: November 27, 2013, 06:50:32 AM
It's interesting how this story and the Star Trek adaptation differ, for both good and ill.

I think this story's actually a lot more action packed, even if ST "ends with a bang". Plus it has the insanity of hitting yourself on the head to get through the force field (really? Is that the solution the overmind had in mind? I thought he was just gonna fall asleep against it...)

But I think the ST story has more moral dimension to it. I don't know if it's a function of how society has grown, or SF, or just the moral vision of Star Trek... but it is something.

And I noticed that PodCastle ran an even more old-timey story this week -- was this Voyage to the Past week?




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Reply #11 on: November 27, 2013, 09:17:01 AM
Am I the only one who kept hearing "da da DUN DUN DUN DUN da da DUH da!" in their head over and over while listening to this for some inexplicable reason?  ???



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Reply #12 on: November 28, 2013, 04:08:09 AM
I hardly ever read the synopsis for escape pod.  I started listening to the story and remembered in the intro that this was an older story.  Once the alien voice mentioned that the creatures would have a duel to the death, i was immediately reminded of Star Trek.  It was then that I happened to look at the synopsis on the front of my iPod and read the description.  I am glad that the writers of Star Trek kept Kirk dressed.
There are classic stories like this one that are timeless and the core of the story still holds true. After thinking about it, a somewhat similar action happened in Babylon 5.  It wasn't a duel to the death and the other race didn't die, but none the less one person was able to determine the outcome of a war. 



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Reply #13 on: November 28, 2013, 02:28:56 PM
Science fiction gives us a chance to address nagging questions about life.  Sometimes, it's painful introspection about race relations.  Other times, it might be about the sociological implications of innovation outstripping morality. 

And then once in a while, you find yourself forced to confront the age-old question that has haunted man since the dawn of time:  How would YOU defend yourself against a homicidal beach ball in a mano a sphero knock down drag out fight to the death?



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Reply #14 on: December 01, 2013, 08:15:27 PM
I must say that this story creeped me out. A third-party entity randomly chose a representative of each civilization to participate in a compulsory duel because "evolution must be allowed to go on?" ??? So many objections here, but I'll just note that the modern understanding of evolutionary processes involves lots of competition.

That said, I can appreciate why the story still has legs after all this time, and I'm not sad to have heard it. I was impressed by how each little detail came together to reveal a creative solution, and I was surprised that the main character didn't attempt to fall asleep against the barrier before going to the extreme of knocking himself out.


And then once in a while, you find yourself forced to confront the age-old question that has haunted man since the dawn of time:  How would YOU defend yourself against a homicidal beach ball in a mano a sphero knock down drag out fight to the death?

Thank you, I needed that laugh. :D



ancawonka

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Reply #15 on: December 02, 2013, 06:59:06 PM
Because this story was written in the early days of science fiction, I knew the ending:  white man conquers violent alien species through superior intelligence and strength.

The lack of twist or empathy didn't detract from my enjoyment of this action-packed, yet intellectual, story.  The pacing was great, and I was engaged in the action (and trying to figure out how the problem would be solved). 

It seems like the meta-alien was cheating a bit, giving him the answer about the lizard.  I wish he'd figured out the solution on his own, rather than having to get help from the deus ex machina.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put a fighting fish and a scorpion in adjoining fish tanks and see how long it takes them to kill each other if I stop giving them food.



Devoted135

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Reply #16 on: December 02, 2013, 07:14:30 PM
On the more technical side, I thought Brown's pacing was excellent. He pulled off the use of the main character's falling in and out of consciousness as a way of marking the passage of time, without sounding corny or forced. Usually, when I read stories of characters going in and out of consciousness, it feels like a cop out, especially when they bounce back right as rain afterwards. Here, the loss of consciousness becomes a pivotal device in the story.

I meant to comment on this as well. The reading was really great, and the "falling in and out of consciousness" passages were especially effectively done.



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Reply #17 on: December 03, 2013, 03:09:32 PM
I admit I groaned a bit when it seemed a little too by-the-book classicky SF at the contrived setting up of the arena battle.

But I actually liked this one.  I felt that making the alien full of uncompromising hatred was a bit of a copout, but a reasonable choice to justify the rest of the story--I liked that the protagonist at least tried to offer peace. 

Was it an unreasonable and strange choice for the super-aliens to intervene in this battle?  Sure.  But they're super-aliens who have nothing better to do.  I'd guess they're doing it more from boredom at watching the universe tick away as anything.  I don't think there's necessarily anything altruistic about their intentions, and I'm fine with that.

I agree with Alasdair that the real test was the treatment of the lizards.  In the end he won the day because of his empathy--he followed the lizard instead of killing or ignoring it, and he killed the other lizard out of mercy.  And that wouldn't have been possible without the roller's cruelty, so the combination of the two were what gave him the edge.

When I realized the broken lizard had passed through the barrier I reached the conclusion of unconsciousness (or wounding) right away, so that was an exciting revelation.  I did not imagine he would actually knock himself unconscious, rather that he would just lean against the wall until exhaustion took him. But I see how that would be a problem, as he'd probably just sleep until he died then.  Though it also strikes me as unlikely that he could gauge the exact way to hit himself that would knock himself briefly unconscious without causing too much injury.



matweller

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Reply #18 on: December 03, 2013, 03:12:51 PM
I admit I groaned a bit when it seemed a little too by-the-book classicky SF at the contrived setting up of the arena battle.
Can you get upset about a cliche' when the object of discussion is one of the stories that made the cliche'? :P



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Reply #19 on: December 03, 2013, 05:31:05 PM
I admit I groaned a bit when it seemed a little too by-the-book classicky SF at the contrived setting up of the arena battle.
Can you get upset about a cliche' when the object of discussion is one of the stories that made the cliche'? :P
Touché.  Although I'd classify it as a trope.


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Reply #20 on: December 03, 2013, 06:10:37 PM
I admit I groaned a bit when it seemed a little too by-the-book classicky SF at the contrived setting up of the arena battle.
Can you get upset about a cliche' when the object of discussion is one of the stories that made the cliche'? :P
Touché.  Although I'd classify it as a trope.

Depends on what you mean by "get upset about", I suppose.  Can I blame the author for lazily using a trope/cliche?  Not fairly, I can't.  Can I still be disappointed that a story is all-too familiar and is dull because I know exactly what to expect because I've read stories like it before?  Yes, I think I can.  It didn't turn out to bug me in this case in the long run.  :)




PotatoKnight

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Reply #21 on: December 03, 2013, 08:18:47 PM
I admit I groaned a bit when it seemed a little too by-the-book classicky SF at the contrived setting up of the arena battle.
Can you get upset about a cliche' when the object of discussion is one of the stories that made the cliche'? :P

I'm not sure we can completely give this story a cliche pass--E E Doc Smith was doing huge fleets of alien ships bent on destruction facing down similar armadas of stalwart humans all presided over by hyperadvanced post-physicality aliens back in the '30s.  It might not have been quite so hoary a cliche by the mid-40s, but the set up is far from original. Nor is it really shooting for original so far as I can tell. A glance at Brown's Wikipedia page suggests he was quite happy using or skewering genre cliches as it fit what he was trying to do.

Brown seems to have started with the idea of imagining a return to champion-based warfare in the space age and to have contrived up a scenario around that. I can't be too bothered by that contrivance, since it's clearly not where the author wanted to focus. Likewise, while the morality of the story and particularly the super-aliens is interesting and troubling, especially coming off a deep Ender's Game reread, it's pretty clear that that's also not Brown's focus. In a sense, the aliens are the author--using fiat power to demand that Man and Beachball fight because of some reasons mumble mumble survival of sentient life. FIGHT FOR OUR ENTERTAINMENT!

And it is entertaining--the concept of champion warfare is a compelling one--turning something huge and impersonal and confusing (war) into something we can understand viscerally (stabbing). 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!



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Reply #22 on: December 03, 2013, 09:29:00 PM

And I noticed that PodCastle ran an even more old-timey story this week -- was this Voyage to the Past week?

Good stuff. Thanks for running this one!


And PseudoPod ran one from the 60's as well this week.


Am I the only one who kept hearing "da da DUN DUN DUN DUN da da DUH da!" in their head over and over while listening to this for some inexplicable reason?  ???


No, except mine was being sung by Jim Carrey ala Cable Guy - oddly the only scene that has managed to remain in my memory is the Medieval Times duel that was an homage to the Star Trek episode. Not sure how I feel about that.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Jen

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Reply #23 on: December 04, 2013, 08:12:48 AM
I had read maybe 20 years ago, but all I remembered was the fact that I read it. (I haven't seen the Star Trek episode either). I am not usually a fan of "old school" SF, with minor exception, so I was pretty surprised that this held up as well as it did. The setup did seem forced (sure, let's destroy an entire race based on two dudes' duel), but, well, millenia-old aliens can't follow the same thought processes I do. Overall, not my favorite story, but enjoyable.



albionmoonlight

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Reply #24 on: December 04, 2013, 06:25:43 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.



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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.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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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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