Author Topic: EP433: That Other Sea  (Read 15172 times)

eytanz

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on: January 31, 2014, 02:48:29 PM
EP433: That Other Sea

by William Ledbetter

Read by Shaelyn Grey

--

From his position on the sandy slope, Catat couldn’t see the Visitor, but the eerie glow moving around beyond the jumbled rocks proved the device had survived its fall into the killing depths. Catat whipped his tail to move downward, but couldn’t generate enough thrust to overcome the water pressure pushing him into the sand. Only the brute force of side-to-side undulation gave him any forward momentum. He moved two body lengths and stopped to let his shell adjust.

As water weight compressed his internal organs further, the gland that produced shellbase went into hyperactive mode, flooding his system, filling the tiny pressure cracks and thickening his ring segments. The depths were changing him, maybe forever, but Catat believed retrieving the Visitor, or at least examining it, was worth the risk.

During the intense discussions that followed the Visitor’s arrival, Catat was the only one who believed it could be artificial. Others, including Catat’s main scientific rival, Racknik, maintained that it had to be some radiation mutated animal from an ice vent. But Catat had been the only one to see it up close. He’d watched the Visitor break through the ice ceiling and then struggle with the canopy kelp before starting its long swirling descent to the chasm floor.

The Visitor was twice Catat’s size and he probably could have done nothing to arrest its fall, but he’d also been frozen with terror and made no attempt to help. Then as it started downward, lights appeared. Not the dim luminescent bait offered by predator fish, but a brilliant, painful glare, brighter than white magma. At that instant, Catat’s fear dissolved in an overwhelming surge of curiosity and fascination. So know he was going after it.

A message from his warren came down the cable he dragged behind him, the electrical pulses converted to taps he could feel through the metal plate mounted between his tool arms and just above his digging arms. The signal was still strong, which worried him. If his shell had thickened enough to protect him against the extreme pressure, then the signal should have been faint.

“Can you still see it?” A prefix identified the sender as one of his research assistants.

“I see the glow from its lights,” Catat replied.

“You made your point. We believe you. Now come back up.” There had been no prefix to identify the second message’s sender, but Catat knew it had to be his friend and sometimes mate, Tipkurr.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!



Thunderscreech

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Reply #1 on: January 31, 2014, 09:27:14 PM
Was anyone else thinking of the story of the spaceship Tsien in the book 2010 by Arthur C. Clarke while reading this story?



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Reply #2 on: February 01, 2014, 05:04:42 AM
My first thought was "The Little Mermaid" ('Under the Sea' is still playing in my mind) meets "Rocket Man" (the Elton John not William Shatner version).

The skillful weaving of exploration from the perspective of a cretaceous, sentient life form captured my attention. Catat's inner and physical struggle made for good story telling.  The singular desire to learn more rang true to me.

The retrieval portion of the story was by far the strongest part of the narrative. I admit the journey to the surface (and beyond??) seemed less vivid. I wondered what sort of massive tidal forces must be at work to rocket Catat so far above the surface. And if such forces caused his meteoric rise, would there not be planetary or satellite bodies dominating the sky of his planet rather than just a field of stars? What of the atmosphere? I am not an physicist but I wondered if Catat's "capsule" could give adequate protection for his journey.

Overall, an interesting insight into the drive to learn and explore.



Seekerpilgrim

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Reply #3 on: February 02, 2014, 07:03:28 AM
I really liked this one. A lean tale, not an ounce of fat on it, and an interesting take on the First Contact theme, as well as the concept of the lone astronaut sacrificing themselves for the sake of science. Echoes of "Rocket Man", "Major Tom", and "Space Oddity". Well written, well narrated.

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skeletondragon

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Reply #4 on: February 03, 2014, 11:36:34 PM
This story gave me chills. As soon as Catat announced his plan to travel through the hole left by the Visitor, I realized what the title referred to. A race of creatures who live in an ocean under a ceiling first encountering outer space? A deadly, incomprehensible, beautiful other sea.

I wondered what sort of massive tidal forces must be at work to rocket Catat so far above the surface. And if such forces caused his meteoric rise, would there not be planetary or satellite bodies dominating the sky of his planet rather than just a field of stars? What of the atmosphere? I am not an physicist but I wondered if Catat's "capsule" could give adequate protection for his journey.

It sounded like their planet was a watery moon of a gas giant outside the Goldilocks zone, like how some people think Europa might be. So the surface was a thick layer of frozen ice, but because of gravitational stress from the giant, geothermal forces heated the ocean underneath and allowed life to exist. It probably didn't have much atmosphere, and Catat's capsule wasn't adequate protection, which is probably why he died very soon after arriving at the surface.



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Reply #5 on: February 04, 2014, 07:55:10 PM
I really enjoyed this one. I caught on that it was Europa fairly early on, and kind of figured that it would end something like it did, but I had hoped the probe would try to communicate more obviously.


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Jompier

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Reply #6 on: February 05, 2014, 04:12:18 PM
In the brief time it took me to catch on to what this story was about, I thought that I was going to enjoy it: an oceanic civilization that developed in parallel to our own discovers that life may exist outside of their known universe. The parallels to our own space exploration are quite nice. Eventually, I ended up getting distracted by what I didn't like about the story, the characterization of Catat, a self-proclaimed scientist.

I get that there is a certain amount of reckless competition in some frontiers of science. Maybe it was more common in bygone years, but it is not completely absent today. So, I'm not dismissive of Catat's character trait. There is an element of truth to it. But what I don't get is why this civilization would have skipped doing elementary research on the world outside their own, had they truly had sufficient exploratory interest in it. For example, why should it come as a surprise that the ambient temperature outside of the ice cap is cold? Isn't that something measurable, some basic piece of information that one might attempt to gather? Make the parallel association to modern space programs. There's a reason why we send satellites and probes and rovers to places like Mars instead of sending astronauts straight away. Those tools are good at collecting useful information and despite the financial price, that approach is far less pricey from an ethical standpoint. So, why wouldn't the civilization in this story have made a similar choice? Either the civilization had no driving interest in exploring the outside world, making Catat's motivation dubious or the exploration wasn't about science at all.

In the end, I think the editorial commentary inadvertently corrected the comparison offered through the story, that Catat's drive and exploration was scientific, by comparing him to Felix Baumgartner. Baumgartner is not a scientist. He's a daredevil. And while I can appreciate that a certain amount of derring-do is required to make a story engaging, let's be careful not to replace the "science" in science fiction with chest-thumping recklessness. Most stories get it right. This one got it wrong.



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Reply #7 on: February 06, 2014, 03:03:00 PM
http://articles.latimes.com/2013/dec/12/science/la-sci-sn-water-geysers-europa-jupiter-icy-moon-life-agu-20131212 talks about just this (though not with little crypto-crustaceans in proto-spacesuits).



skeletondragon

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Reply #8 on: February 08, 2014, 02:45:38 AM
I don't think their society was very advanced. The main technology we see is their long-distance communicator, which is basically a telegraph. So they might not have had the capabilities to create probes. They seemed to have a lot of superstition about both the ice above them and the deep ocean below, and Catat was much more inquisitive than the average member of his species.  So his lack of caution doesn't entirely surprise me. There have been plenty of scientists on Earth who committed suicidal actions in pursuit of discovery, which in hindsight we know how to protect against.



slic

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Reply #9 on: February 09, 2014, 07:13:09 PM
I really enjoyed the story, and I agree with the after show notes that the physical mutation mirrored the changes you feel when exploring (be it a new continent or new house) - you can never unsee something.

Jompier - I think you might have given too much credit (or at least advancement) to the Crayfish People.  I saw them as Middle Ages types, still believing that the Earth was flat.  A Tall Ship is some serious technology when you compare it to cavemen, but it certainly isn't an Apollo capsule.  I recall one point where Catat was kinda surprised by sunlight coming through the hole in the ice.  I suspect they stuck around home quite a lot and didn't explore much at all.  These guys seemed more like Egyptians than Vikings.

My one beef was the ending  - it was so predictable.  I understand that it is more dramatic, but on the same token the character doesn't know they will live, so the sacrifice is still equally significant.  It just seems to me (maybe limited exposure) that unless it's a series main character (say Thor or Raylan Givens or Jack Reacher who we all know will never be killed) the hero never makes it back.  I'm not saying they should all be Apollo 13 endings, but writers out there, it's ok if the hero comes back.



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Reply #10 on: February 09, 2014, 10:59:49 PM
I liked this one a lot.  I especially liked the mixed motives of the narrator -- various parts personal rivalry, driving curiosity, sunk-cost fallacy, desire to serve and primitive attraction.  While you can argue that it's not a particularly realistic view of an alien psychology, it was in interesting mix.

The inability to bore though the ceiling ice didn't bother me.  It seemed fairly clear that the task was beyond their technology, and that seemed reasonable.  Drilling through thick ice would require both blades and some sort of motor to drive them.  I think it would take a really, really long time for a submerged civilization to develop the motor, since neither combustion or electricity could be handled easily in their environment.   
« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 02:07:49 PM by Windup »

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Jompier

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Reply #11 on: February 10, 2014, 12:33:39 PM
Jompier - I think you might have given too much credit (or at least advancement) to the Crayfish People.  I saw them as Middle Ages types, still believing that the Earth was flat.  A Tall Ship is some serious technology when you compare it to cavemen, but it certainly isn't an Apollo capsule.  I recall one point where Catat was kinda surprised by sunlight coming through the hole in the ice.  I suspect they stuck around home quite a lot and didn't explore much at all.  These guys seemed more like Egyptians than Vikings.

In retrospect, I see what you mean, and I agree. In terms of level of advancement, machine-based exploration was probably out of reach. Probes, satellites, etc. was probably not going to happen. I guess what bugs me is that Catat implicitly referred to himself as a scientist (at least by reference to his "scientific rival"). And it seems that by claiming the mantle of science one professes a commitment to measured exploration and data gathering. The way I see it is that the critters had the ability to get to the ice barrier and cut into it. At that point, how sophisticated do your tools need to be before you can gather some data about the world beyond the ice? I would hazard to guess that even less advanced human societies would have tested the properties of something like fire before jumping into a bonfire to learn through sacrifice.

Then again, we could also read the choice to leave Catat tethered to a telegraph/tow cable as evidence that the others in the society did not anticipate that venturing to the world beyond the ice would be a sacrifice at all.



davidthygod

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Reply #12 on: February 10, 2014, 04:42:06 PM
As I understand this story, and my attention was partially diverted due to traffic, some guy cut an ice fishing hole, and a sentient underwater turtle decided to go see what was through the hole. 

The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.


slic

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Reply #13 on: February 10, 2014, 06:14:05 PM
I would hazard to guess that even less advanced human societies would have tested the properties of something like fire before jumping into a bonfire to learn through sacrifice.
Haha good point, however, I bet if we could look deep enough into the distant past, we'd see that some guy probably tried to eat a flame.
We have a cat who burnt her nose sniffing a candle flame - twice!

I think sometimes the roles of explorer and scientist get mixed up together.  How much is measurement can you make without seeing it for yourself?



slic

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Reply #14 on: February 10, 2014, 06:16:49 PM
As I understand this story, and my attention was partially diverted due to traffic, some guy cut an ice fishing hole, and a sentient underwater turtle decided to go see what was through the hole. 
You hit on the main plot point, but, in a similar vein, it's a bit like saying the story of Joan of Arc is about a woman who heard a voice and then got into a fight.



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Reply #15 on: February 11, 2014, 02:33:41 PM
I quite enjoyed this one, a race of aliens who were unaware of the world outside their ice crust until first contact reached them.  I think this was probably meant to be Europa specifically, which is cool, have read a few stories that speculate about underwater life on Europa.

My favorite part was the breaking through at the end and the realization that they were really just living in a tiny ice bubble in a great sea.

Interesting that because their experience of the world was so limited to just the fluid underdwelling, and not even familiar with the surface of their moon, that this limitation actually prepared them better for coping with the concept of outer space.  Because their only experience was an open fluid in which they could move freely, they could more easily adapt outer space to their understanding as a vast ocean.  Much more easily than, say, if you launched an ancient Greek scholar into space who has no concept of anything but a flat world where he is bound to a surface.

I didn't think that Catat's nature conflicted with his proclaimed science career at all.  He understood that they had a very limited window of opportunity while the ice was still penetrable and  his shell was still extra thick.  Science does not say that you can't take a dangerous leap and see what happens.  All that science says is that you should record what happens honestly and completely as you can, so that others can try to reproduce the conclusions.  No doubt the first deep sea explorers were taking major risks of getting the bends and the like, things which they didn't fully understand, but that doesn't mean they weren't scientists.  There are different ways to pursue science.  Thomas Edison, for instance, tended to be very methodical in comparison to Nikola Tesla who tended to make intuitive leaps and who professed a contempt for Edison's plodding pace.




albionmoonlight

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Reply #16 on: February 11, 2014, 04:25:47 PM
This reminded me of a Golden Age story (whose name I cannot recall) about humans having seeded life into a puddle on another world.  Then, generations later, an explorer comes out of the puddle and into another puddle.  "Outer space" for them was the surface of the world.

I agree with SeekerPilgrim that this was a nice, tight story.  Even though the ending was somewhat telegraphed, I did not mind that at all.  This was much more about the journey and the character than the destination.



Devoted135

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Reply #17 on: February 12, 2014, 09:36:33 PM
Am I the only one who seriously thought this story was set in the Antarctic until they read the comments here? Europa certainly makes more sense, but I like my interpretation too. :D

This was a fun story and I couldn't help but laugh at wondering what the people watching the probe's camera feed must have been thinking. What a discovery that would be! I thought the snail people were a really cool invention, even if they didn't really seem very "alien."

Really interesting discussion about the scientific merits of Catat's methods. I think of Catat as more of a Shackleton figure than a Baumgartner figure, willing to take big risks but for the sake of actual scientific discovery rather than bragging rights.



My one beef was the ending  - it was so predictable.  I understand that it is more dramatic, but on the same token the character doesn't know they will live, so the sacrifice is still equally significant.  It just seems to me (maybe limited exposure) that unless it's a series main character (say Thor or Raylan Givens or Jack Reacher who we all know will never be killed) the hero never makes it back.  I'm not saying they should all be Apollo 13 endings, but writers out there, it's ok if the hero comes back.

Thank you. :) The world needs more Justified references!



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Reply #18 on: February 13, 2014, 05:00:16 AM
The way I see it is that the critters had the ability to get to the ice barrier and cut into it. At that point, how sophisticated do your tools need to be before you can gather some data about the world beyond the ice? I would hazard to guess that even less advanced human societies would have tested the properties of something like fire before jumping into a bonfire to learn through sacrifice.

Then again, we could also read the choice to leave Catat tethered to a telegraph/tow cable as evidence that the others in the society did not anticipate that venturing to the world beyond the ice would be a sacrifice at all.

I didn't see them as having the ability to penetrate the ice barrier at will. To get very far in hard ice that was continually re-freezing, I would think they'd need some sort of motorized blade; as I said earlier, I think it would take a long time for submerged society to develop motors.  They clearly knew a little, because they were talking about "tidal forces," but that knowledge seemed to come from natural fissures in the ice. 

So, I think they were seizing a rare opportunity to get through a hole in the ice barrier before it was sealed, and before whatever sent the probe left.  I think it was a perfectly understandable gamble.

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


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Reply #19 on: February 13, 2014, 02:48:25 PM
The way I see it is that the critters had the ability to get to the ice barrier and cut into it. At that point, how sophisticated do your tools need to be before you can gather some data about the world beyond the ice? I would hazard to guess that even less advanced human societies would have tested the properties of something like fire before jumping into a bonfire to learn through sacrifice.

Then again, we could also read the choice to leave Catat tethered to a telegraph/tow cable as evidence that the others in the society did not anticipate that venturing to the world beyond the ice would be a sacrifice at all.

I didn't see them as having the ability to penetrate the ice barrier at will. To get very far in hard ice that was continually re-freezing, I would think they'd need some sort of motorized blade; as I said earlier, I think it would take a long time for submerged society to develop motors.  They clearly knew a little, because they were talking about "tidal forces," but that knowledge seemed to come from natural fissures in the ice. 

So, I think they were seizing a rare opportunity to get through a hole in the ice barrier before it was sealed, and before whatever sent the probe left.  I think it was a perfectly understandable gamble.

I think Windup is right.  And in addition, I think that in their understanding of the world the ice barrier is literally the boundary of the world.  When they mention sunlight coming through the hole that's a new revelation.  Human beings had the benefit of being able to SEE celestial objects like the sun and the stars and the planets and the moon to make us philosophize about them. This species developed under an ice ceiling, so the top of the world is the top of the world and that is that.  Until the probe comes through and the probe must've come from somewhere.



Jompier

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Reply #20 on: February 13, 2014, 03:15:56 PM
The way I see it is that the critters had the ability to get to the ice barrier and cut into it. At that point, how sophisticated do your tools need to be before you can gather some data about the world beyond the ice? I would hazard to guess that even less advanced human societies would have tested the properties of something like fire before jumping into a bonfire to learn through sacrifice.

Then again, we could also read the choice to leave Catat tethered to a telegraph/tow cable as evidence that the others in the society did not anticipate that venturing to the world beyond the ice would be a sacrifice at all.

I didn't see them as having the ability to penetrate the ice barrier at will. To get very far in hard ice that was continually re-freezing, I would think they'd need some sort of motorized blade; as I said earlier, I think it would take a long time for submerged society to develop motors.  They clearly knew a little, because they were talking about "tidal forces," but that knowledge seemed to come from natural fissures in the ice. 

So, I think they were seizing a rare opportunity to get through a hole in the ice barrier before it was sealed, and before whatever sent the probe left.  I think it was a perfectly understandable gamble.

I think Windup is right.  And in addition, I think that in their understanding of the world the ice barrier is literally the boundary of the world.  When they mention sunlight coming through the hole that's a new revelation.  Human beings had the benefit of being able to SEE celestial objects like the sun and the stars and the planets and the moon to make us philosophize about them. This species developed under an ice ceiling, so the top of the world is the top of the world and that is that.  Until the probe comes through and the probe must've come from somewhere.

Okay, I can buy this. They did end up realizing after towing the submersible that it came through a thin part of the ice. The narration conveyed enough surprise to suggest that they might not have looked for thin spots in the ice before. So, I do buy that the race might not have had the ability to probe the environment beyond the ice. It still leaves me with Catat's recklessness, which still seems counterproductive to his scientific mission. He did mention earlier that he would likely survive the damage to his body incurred from capturing the submersible. It would have required surgery and he wouldn't have had the same capabilities as before, but I didn't get the sense that his life was at an end. So that couldn't been the motivation. Maybe he just trusted that he understood his own ability to survive better than he should have.



ancawonka

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Reply #21 on: February 13, 2014, 07:18:15 PM
I enjoyed this story quite a lot.  I also thought it was set somewhere on earth until Catat "fell" into space, and was able to see the bubble they all lived in.  I was expecting him to meet a human inside that probe.

The alien creatures seemed really neat - being able to mutate their bodies to deal with the environment around them, and also being able to control/reverse those mutations through surgery is a cool idea especially given that they don't have any opportunities for combustion.

I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel to this. How did they figure out the communication mechanism with the probe? What do the human operators think, having found some obviously intelligent life?



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Reply #22 on: February 19, 2014, 12:43:34 AM
The way I see it is that the critters had the ability to get to the ice barrier and cut into it. At that point, how sophisticated do your tools need to be before you can gather some data about the world beyond the ice? I would hazard to guess that even less advanced human societies would have tested the properties of something like fire before jumping into a bonfire to learn through sacrifice.

Then again, we could also read the choice to leave Catat tethered to a telegraph/tow cable as evidence that the others in the society did not anticipate that venturing to the world beyond the ice would be a sacrifice at all.

I didn't see them as having the ability to penetrate the ice barrier at will. To get very far in hard ice that was continually re-freezing, I would think they'd need some sort of motorized blade; as I said earlier, I think it would take a long time for submerged society to develop motors.  They clearly knew a little, because they were talking about "tidal forces," but that knowledge seemed to come from natural fissures in the ice. 

So, I think they were seizing a rare opportunity to get through a hole in the ice barrier before it was sealed, and before whatever sent the probe left.  I think it was a perfectly understandable gamble.

I think Windup is right.  And in addition, I think that in their understanding of the world the ice barrier is literally the boundary of the world.  When they mention sunlight coming through the hole that's a new revelation.  Human beings had the benefit of being able to SEE celestial objects like the sun and the stars and the planets and the moon to make us philosophize about them. This species developed under an ice ceiling, so the top of the world is the top of the world and that is that.  Until the probe comes through and the probe must've come from somewhere.

Okay, I can buy this. They did end up realizing after towing the submersible that it came through a thin part of the ice. The narration conveyed enough surprise to suggest that they might not have looked for thin spots in the ice before. So, I do buy that the race might not have had the ability to probe the environment beyond the ice. It still leaves me with Catat's recklessness, which still seems counterproductive to his scientific mission. He did mention earlier that he would likely survive the damage to his body incurred from capturing the submersible. It would have required surgery and he wouldn't have had the same capabilities as before, but I didn't get the sense that his life was at an end. So that couldn't been the motivation. Maybe he just trusted that he understood his own ability to survive better than he should have.

See I got the exact opposite towards the end. I think that Catat was more worried about being so broken, being useless, being unable to explore anymore, so he goes out on what he expects to be his final mission and if it isn't, then all the better. He has the tether to relay all the information, so he doesn't necessarily need to report everything in person. He has that scientist/explorer archetypal attitude where if he isn't actively adding to the collection of knowledge by being out in the world, he has lost his purpose to life and eventually commits to a form of suicide by saying, "Either I come back or I don't. As long as I don't die old, alone, and unwanted."

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Reply #23 on: February 28, 2014, 11:35:32 PM
I liked this a lot
I think the narration was excellent, and the story took a couple of unexpected turns.
keep them coming!



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Reply #24 on: March 01, 2014, 08:08:10 PM
Two comments:

This story was awesome.

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Reply #25 on: March 12, 2014, 08:06:03 PM

Was anyone else thinking of the story of the spaceship Tsien in the book 2010 by Arthur C. Clarke while reading this story?


I was actually thinking about the seeding of Europa and lobster mechanists in Schismatrix.

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


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Reply #26 on: March 13, 2014, 11:32:01 AM
Thought about this story as I watched Europa Report last week, in which a manned expedition visits Europa to look for life.  Among other things they bring a remote control probe to look around under the ice.  (Awesome movie btw)



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Reply #27 on: March 13, 2014, 04:07:36 PM
It was Europa all along?

I kept thinking it would turn out to be some long-forgotten underwater evolution beneath the sea ice in the Arctic or something, so when he broke through and flew into space, I was a little lost.

In spite of my misconceptions, I really liked this story. Catat was all about the exploration - not for the sake of riches or glory but simply for the sake of *knowing.*

Even in a sentient alien crayfish, that is an admirable trait.

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Reply #28 on: April 07, 2014, 11:20:59 AM
Well, I don't have anything to add that hasn't already been said.
I liked this one a lot, and immediately thought about Europa and Arthur C. Clark.

The only gripe I have is a technical one.
The audio of the story was about 20 db softer than the endcaps. In fact, I was only able to hear the story because I have a custom ROM on my MP3 player that allowed me to boost the sound beyond what should have been safe levels. And that of course caused interference in my less-than-expensive headphones, but that's a small price to pay for such quality fiction.
The price that I didn't like paying was getting my eardrums assaulted by the outro music that was turned up way too high.
I appreciate all of the effort that goes into making an episode of EP. From finding a story, buying its rights, finding a reader, getting the recording, editing it, getting the intros and outros, adding music, removing profanity, perhaps getting Mat to include a disclaimer and so on and so forth (that's my way of saying "there's probably more stuff going on behind the scenes that I don't know about and I didn't even mention Paul"). Anyway, what I'm saying is, this is a great podcast. It truly is. But what frustrates me is that all it takes is a single mouse click in Audacity to normalize the sound levels, and that tiny effort will take this from being "great" to "the best in the known universe". Usually the staff at EA pay attention to these little details, and it only goes to show the high quality of their work that when they miss it, it's noticeable.
So, not exactly a complaint. More of a "hey! You missed this." kind of comment.

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Reply #29 on: April 07, 2014, 02:01:37 PM
By pure chance I first watched the movie Europa Report (2013) two days ago and then listened to That Other Sea the very next day.

The main message in both stories is well captured in the final words of Rosa Dasque, the end of her personal Europa Report:

Quote from: Rosa Dasque
"Compared to the breadth of knowledge yet to be known... what does your life actually matter?"

In both stories, all the explorers ultimately sacrifice their lives in the pursuit of knowledge.
Personalities and relationships are present, and relevant, but for these explorers nothing eclipses the drive to discover.

With only a few adjustments of minor story elements these could easily be the same story of first contact as told from each side.  The movie would be the natural place to start, as it is the creatures from beyond the "ice ceiling" that initiate contact.

The parallels in theme, style and plot elements are striking, and unusual for a motion picture - probably why Europa Report never had a wide theatrical distribution ($125,475 in box office revenues, according to IMDB).

Europa Report seems ideal for an Escape Pod audience.

I've contacted Start Motion Pictures <motionpictures@start-media.com> to suggest a movie adaptation of That Other Sea.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 04:10:07 PM by Wolfe »



matweller

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Reply #30 on: April 07, 2014, 03:08:16 PM
The only gripe I have is a technical one.
The audio of the story was about 20 db softer than the endcaps. In fact, I was only able to hear the story because I have a custom ROM on my MP3 player that allowed me to boost the sound beyond what should have been safe levels. And that of course caused interference in my less-than-expensive headphones, but that's a small price to pay for such quality fiction.
Thanks for the heads-up, I'll have a look at it tonight and upload a more even file if possible.

But what frustrates me is that all it takes is a single mouse click in Audacity to normalize the sound levels, and that tiny effort will take this from being "great" to "the best in the known universe".
I know you're not a jerk, so I'm taking this in the right spirit, don't worry about that. But you do realize that this is a little like saying "anybody can use a needle and thread, so whenever stitching a wound results in a visible scar, you can assume the doctor's completely incompetent." Sometimes while you sleep the doctor opens you up and finds an something that saves you from losing an appendage and the scar is nothing to what you could have awakened to see. ;)








(and yes...sometimes the doctor leaves his scissors inside because he was in a hurry to get out of the O.R. for a golf game... ;)



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #31 on: April 07, 2014, 08:00:14 PM
Thanks for taking it the right way Mat. I realize that could have gone either way...
It's just, well, a personal pet peeve of mine is when somebody (usually myself) does a half-assed job of it. Or even the appearance of a half-assed job.
I'm a programmer, and part of my job is looking for the extreme cases, the end cases. The weird probably-won't-happen-but-we-need-to-take-care-of-it-anyway cases. And that means paying attention to the details. And when I look at some code I wrote and it works, but it could be so much better if only I'd done this which is really simple, it frustrates me. Because the added effort required is so minimal and the payoff is so great and why the hell didn't I just do it right to begin with?
I'm sure that there was a good reason for this minor oversight, and I'm sure that you were sub-par on the game (or whatever a good golf score is, Do they even keep score in golf?).

Ugh, I realize that I spent a lot of words trying to say this: I found a minor technical glitch in this episode which bothered me a little and is probably easy to fix. Just thought you should know. Also, you guys do a great job and the report of this minor glitch is in no way or form some sort of complaint or criticism but is merely a simple bug report.

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Unblinking

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Reply #32 on: April 16, 2014, 02:42:57 PM
By pure chance I first watched the movie Europa Report (2013) two days ago and then listened to That Other Sea the very next day.

The main message in both stories is well captured in the final words of Rosa Dasque, the end of her personal Europa Report:

Quote from: Rosa Dasque
"Compared to the breadth of knowledge yet to be known... what does your life actually matter?"

In both stories, all the explorers ultimately sacrifice their lives in the pursuit of knowledge.
Personalities and relationships are present, and relevant, but for these explorers nothing eclipses the drive to discover.

With only a few adjustments of minor story elements these could easily be the same story of first contact as told from each side.  The movie would be the natural place to start, as it is the creatures from beyond the "ice ceiling" that initiate contact.

The parallels in theme, style and plot elements are striking, and unusual for a motion picture - probably why Europa Report never had a wide theatrical distribution ($125,475 in box office revenues, according to IMDB).

Europa Report seems ideal for an Escape Pod audience.

I've contacted Start Motion Pictures <motionpictures@start-media.com> to suggest a movie adaptation of That Other Sea.

Yes!  Awesome movie, I saw it after I saw the Ray Bradbury nominees list.

Thanks for taking it the right way Mat. I realize that could have gone either way...
It's just, well, a personal pet peeve of mine is when somebody (usually myself) does a half-assed job of it. Or even the appearance of a half-assed job.
I'm a programmer, and part of my job is looking for the extreme cases, the end cases. The weird probably-won't-happen-but-we-need-to-take-care-of-it-anyway cases. And that means paying attention to the details. And when I look at some code I wrote and it works, but it could be so much better if only I'd done this which is really simple, it frustrates me. Because the added effort required is so minimal and the payoff is so great and why the hell didn't I just do it right to begin with?
I'm sure that there was a good reason for this minor oversight, and I'm sure that you were sub-par on the game (or whatever a good golf score is, Do they even keep score in golf?).

Ugh, I realize that I spent a lot of words trying to say this: I found a minor technical glitch in this episode which bothered me a little and is probably easy to fix. Just thought you should know. Also, you guys do a great job and the report of this minor glitch is in no way or form some sort of complaint or criticism but is merely a simple bug report.


I don't think it's easy as hitting the equalize sound button, though, right?  Doesn't that equalize everything, even the pauses between words, so that the staticky noise is multiplied at that point?  It might work better for music where there's probably some kind of sound almost all the time.




matweller

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Reply #33 on: April 16, 2014, 05:47:53 PM
I don't think it's easy as hitting the equalize sound button, though, right?  Doesn't that equalize everything, even the pauses between words, so that the staticky noise is multiplied at that point?  It might work better for music where there's probably some kind of sound almost all the time.

First, let me apologize for not getting to this already. When I went to do it, the drive with the files on it wasn't playing nice with my computer, and then I got tangled in everything for Eater of Bone. I'll try to look at this again this week.

You're right, of course, Unblinking. It's not that easy, but there may or may not be something more I can do. It would be very unusual for me to not bring the levels up on a part without a reason, so I'm not venturing any guess before I look at the file.

Sometimes I may leave a part quieter because I've already done so much processing to a file to get it where it is that running it through one more filter is going to ruin it in some way that I can't tolerate. Sometimes it's because a person's voice hits the exact wrong spot in the MP3 compression algorithm and the export of the file kills it. Sometimes it's because there's a dead space in the range of the listeners' speakers/headphones that happens to be right where the narrator's voice hits -- I can't do anything about that.

There are a variety of possibilities. I'll look for what I can, enhance a bit if I can, update the file if necessary and walk away. If there's nothing I can do, I'll assume Max was the only one and thank him for trying to help and ask him to let me know when it happens again. We'll see. But I thank you for the reminder.



doctornemo

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Reply #34 on: May 01, 2014, 12:05:58 AM
A powerful, clever tale.  I was impressed at the world(let)building, and the realization of the civilization.  The finale moved me deeply in its mixture of realization and sacrifice.

I listened to this while driving through a chilly upper New England night, which perhaps made the cold resonate extra well.



CryptoMe

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Reply #35 on: May 22, 2014, 06:03:12 PM

Okay, I can buy this. They did end up realizing after towing the submersible that it came through a thin part of the ice. The narration conveyed enough surprise to suggest that they might not have looked for thin spots in the ice before. So, I do buy that the race might not have had the ability to probe the environment beyond the ice. It still leaves me with Catat's recklessness, which still seems counterproductive to his scientific mission. He did mention earlier that he would likely survive the damage to his body incurred from capturing the submersible. It would have required surgery and he wouldn't have had the same capabilities as before, but I didn't get the sense that his life was at an end. So that couldn't been the motivation. Maybe he just trusted that he understood his own ability to survive better than he should have.

See I got the exact opposite towards the end. I think that Catat was more worried about being so broken, being useless, being unable to explore anymore, so he goes out on what he expects to be his final mission and if it isn't, then all the better. He has the tether to relay all the information, so he doesn't necessarily need to report everything in person. He has that scientist/explorer archetypal attitude where if he isn't actively adding to the collection of knowledge by being out in the world, he has lost his purpose to life and eventually commits to a form of suicide by saying, "Either I come back or I don't. As long as I don't die old, alone, and unwanted."

Also, I thought there was a selfless motivation involved. He thought his mate would never leave him, especially in his current crippled condition, so he wanted a way to set her free. If he died, she could find someone else who could procreate with with her (which I understand Catat could no longer do with his thickened carapace, even after surgery).

And by the way, I really liked this story. Crustaceans under the ice of Europa is a great premise, and the characters were interesting too.



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Reply #36 on: June 11, 2014, 08:40:24 AM
I am always in favor of stories where aliens are allowed to be alien, and humans do not necessarily make an appearance. This was well done in swiftly establishing the alien morphology, society and motivations in a non-infodumping manner. It worked well as a celebration of curiosity and explorer spirit, without trying too hard to manipulate us emotionally. Solid!



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Reply #37 on: March 31, 2015, 06:53:06 PM
Congratulations to William Ledbetter and Shaelyn Grey on EP433: That Other Sea winning the award for Best Escape Pod of 2015!