Author Topic: EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer  (Read 17807 times)

Richard Babley

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Reply #25 on: July 10, 2014, 05:57:16 PM
The feedback text is like ninety percent already posted in the relevant thread, you guys.  And half of what I write is a formula anyway.  ("And that's all for this week; join us next week when we [topically appropriate stupid joke].")

This weeks comments are for The Grotto of the Dancing Deer.  This was a happy little story about a twenty thousand year old caveman's invention of Disney kitsch.  Comments about the story were mostly positive, with several complainy old listeners telling us to turn the monster surf rock down so they can hear if I curated their comments into something worthwhile.  Well, thats all for this week, please join us again next week when we crank it up to 11 and sing the story as lyrics to Daikaiju.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2014, 06:00:17 PM by Richard Babley »



Thunderscreech

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Reply #26 on: July 10, 2014, 07:42:46 PM
That was perfect.



meggzandbacon

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Reply #27 on: July 11, 2014, 03:23:00 AM
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, as I have all of Simak's work that I've read. My only "gripe" (and it's a small complaint, really) is with the narration. Norm is, as usual, awesome, but...did anyone else feel like he was whispering? I realized at some point that I was hunched over the steering wheel, leaning in because it felt like he was whispering a secret into my ear. The volume was fine, but I felt like I kept wanting to turn it up.

I actually loved Norm's narration, although I've yet to hear him read a thing I didn't love.  He's probably the best narrator in audio fiction IMO, even the pro books on tape people (books on CD I guess now... or mp3 hah.)  Some of his narrations are kinda softer or "camp-firey" at Drabblecast but I didn't have any problems hearing this one.

About the story:  FANTASTIC.  Lius did seem inhuman but of course he pretty much had to be, I think that was the point.  And the chilling thing was juxtaposing his philosophies on survival behavior with the ways that many "humans" live their regular lives today.  Or groups of humans, corporations, nations and governments... entities that live longer than normal human life spans.

I find myself wondering if I would keep Lius's secret myself. 



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #28 on: July 14, 2014, 08:56:36 PM
What this story reminded me most of was a little movie called "Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth" about a similar immortal (I think Bixby also wrote a similar story for The Twilight Zone, and of course there was a story along these lines on the original Star Trek).

For me Simak brings up memories of the many "quest" stories he wrote in the 1980s. This was quite different, and I liked it. I'm also curious as to how someone handles this tale; how believable the reveal is, how plausible a character's bio is.

(also, yes, I too was annoyed at the music playing over the exit; and now I'm not sure I'm still subscribed)



adrianh

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Reply #29 on: July 15, 2014, 08:42:24 AM
Loved it. Simak is one of my all time favourite authors. City, Way Station and All Flesh is Grass have all been re-read multiple times (Way Station is another slant on isolation and sort-of-immmortality, among other things, if this story gave you a taste for it)

A classic short, well read. Thank you.

Personally I never read Luis as being a non-participant in humanity though. This is somebody who went to university in Paris & Cambridge after all. Somebody who wandered the world — saw Sparta, etc. Despite what he tells us, his actions reveal that he did a lot more in the world than his stated philosophy would drive him to.

For me his isolation was much more personal. This was somebody who couldn't / wouldn't really be honest with anybody. Who always had to keep aspects of themselves private. That was the harrowing thing about the way he decided to live.



Unblinking

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Reply #30 on: July 17, 2014, 02:16:51 PM
I was a bit surprised in the comments here when people complained that Luis seemed inhuman.  Well, yes he was.  The fact that he's lived so long says that by itself even if that were the only change.  And that's a change that would cause other changes over the substantial period of time--are you the same now as you were five years ago?  Ten?  Fifteen?  He has no peers that we can compare him to, and has aged so far beyond what should be possible that there's no one even near that magnitude of age, so of course he seems alien.

I thought his behavior over the years was plausible.  By definition, anyone who lives that long has to have traits of a survivor.  Idealism, heroism, hunger for glory, these are all things that are liable to get you killed especially if you display during many points of world history.  Maybe there were other immortals out there and they had heroic traits, and so died at a younger age, maybe never living beyond 100.

Haha, throughout the story I felt certain that JJ Abrams must have read this story and been a fan because I had a memory of him naming an immortal character on Lost Luis.  But when I looked it up, it turns out that character was not named "Luis", though there was a tenuous multi-step connection to the name "Luis".  The character's name on Lost was Richard Alpert, who was played by the actor Nestor Carbonell.  I first saw Nestor Carbonell on the sitcom Suddenly Susan in which he played a character called Luis.  I didn't even particularly care about Suddenly Susan, but I saw a few episodes here and there, and I think that was the first place I ever heard the name "Luis" and to me it sounded like the woman's name "Louise" and I thought it was strange.  (Yes, I know it's a non-English man's name, but didn't know at the time). 





Dem

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Reply #31 on: July 22, 2014, 01:05:21 PM
Of its time and now of conceptual rather than literary interest I think. I found it clunky, long-winded, and bloke-ily tedious.

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.


Devoted135

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Reply #32 on: July 23, 2014, 03:27:58 PM
What an excellent episode. :) I agree with Unblinking that the few hints of his life Luis lets slip betray him as someone who has been way more involved in history than he would like to let on. For some reason Luis is extremely reticent to share any of his knowledge or experience with Boyd, but in just a few minutes we learn that he: didn't care for Athens, loved Sparta, went to many if not most of the major European universities in their individual heydays, was present for at least part of Charlemagne's career, and so on. I didn't understand why Luis was so unwilling to talk about these things, but he certainly hasn't led the life of a secluded hermit for 20,000 years. Maybe as Boyd and Luis get to know each other better Luis will be willing to open up more about his life history.


As soon as I heard the volume of the outro music go up I knew that by this time Mat would have fixed it and uploaded a new version (I downloaded the original file immediately but only got around to listening yesterday). Sure enough, there it was. Thanks Mat! :)



matweller

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Reply #33 on: July 23, 2014, 03:54:54 PM
It's all for you, Devoted135. ;)



Unblinking

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Reply #34 on: July 23, 2014, 03:58:30 PM
I agree with Unblinking that the few hints of his life Luis lets slip betray him as someone who has been way more involved in history than he would like to let on.

I don't think my comments are what you're referring to. adrianh's maybe?



Devoted135

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Reply #35 on: July 23, 2014, 04:27:46 PM
It's all for you, Devoted135. ;)

Haha, thanks!

I agree with Unblinking that the few hints of his life Luis lets slip betray him as someone who has been way more involved in history than he would like to let on.

I don't think my comments are what you're referring to. adrianh's maybe?

Whoops, you're totally right!



Nfidel

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Reply #36 on: August 09, 2014, 04:05:53 PM
I really enjoyed this Simak story. I had previously read his novel "City" and it too is an excellent read.
Also, as with InfiniteMonkey, the Grotto of the Dancing Deer reminded me of Bixby's "The Man From Earth".
It's an interesting film, unless you require explosions and such, as this is dialogue driven.


Fenrix

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Reply #37 on: August 16, 2014, 04:44:14 PM
My positive reaction to the story was just like Thunderscreech's


I had a sinking feeling when Luis described all the traits required to survive.  I both reviled them and...  recognized them.  How many of us unconsciously use Luis's techniques every day we trudge into a 'safe' job we don't really like?  Or decide to skip pursuing a 'wild' business idea because the risk to our savings?  How many of us say 'that's none of my business' when we see something we don't like and keep walking because it's safe?

It felt Simak was using Luis to tell me to stop just surviving and start living.  It's a frightening directive, compellingly delivered. 

I'm physically uncomfortable by what feel like stark truths.  It was well written.


A couple things bothered me about this story. Maybe I've been reading too many environmental reports, but it seemed a bit insane that an archaeologist is just going to tear apart something that is clearly man-made masonry and dive in headlong without any documentation. No sketches of how the stones fit together or photos of the in situ condition. I understand being excited, but he was there on an archaeological expedition to document the cave paintings and prehistoric culture. I don't know why he didn't stop at the first stone where he learned there was an opening behind it and get the whole team to come back. In the end he got to trade this site for another dig site, but I didn't get the hint in his personality setup that made him dive in headfirst without following good preservation and documentation practices.

Also, maybe I wasn't listening close enough, but I thought there was a mummified severed hand found in the first chamber? And this matched Luis's bottle prints and the paint prints but Luis still had his hand? What did I miss? I went looking for the text of this story but didn't find it.

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


TrishEM

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Reply #38 on: August 20, 2014, 02:38:28 AM
Quote

A couple things bothered me about this story. Maybe I've been reading too many environmental reports, but it seemed a bit insane that an archaeologist is just going to tear apart something that is clearly man-made masonry and dive in headlong without any documentation. No sketches of how the stones fit together or photos of the in situ condition. I understand being excited, but he was there on an archaeological expedition to document the cave paintings and prehistoric culture. I don't know why he didn't stop at the first stone where he learned there was an opening behind it and get the whole team to come back. In the end he got to trade this site for another dig site, but I didn't get the hint in his personality setup that made him dive in headfirst without following good preservation and documentation practices.

Also, maybe I wasn't listening close enough, but I thought there was a mummified severed hand found in the first chamber? And this matched Luis's bottle prints and the paint prints but Luis still had his hand? What did I miss? I went looking for the text of this story but didn't find it.

The archaeological vandalism really bothered me too -- he didn't even have the motivation of treasure-hunting, it seemed he just wanted to hug the discovery all to himself. If he had pointed it out to the team, surely he would have been mentioned in the papers even if it was credited as a team effort, but instead he kept it secret and so would have raised fraud suspicions whenever he had tried to make it public (even without the issue of the eternal survivor). It just seemed senseless for him to do it that way.

And yeah, the severed hand seemed like a Chekhov's gun that never went off. Before we found out about the ancient who survived, I was expecting this to be the penalty for heresy that the dancing-deer artist paid for lighthearted paintings, imposed by the serious religious painters. As it was, I don't think it had anything to do with Luis or the fingerprints; it appeared to be a pointless mystery that distracted from the main story.



hardware

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Reply #39 on: September 16, 2014, 02:26:44 PM
Classic stuff.  And yes, Luis not living a full life was kind of the point of the story (a point perhaps more relevant than ever in our risk-aversion obsessed culture). In fact, if I have any problem it's that this point was hammered in a little too much on the nose, but you get that a lot with older short form sci-fi, and it can be kind of charming to hear in our time, where ambiguity is the rule of the land.



Unblinking

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Reply #40 on: September 20, 2014, 12:03:42 AM
ambiguity is the rule of the land.

Or is it?



Scattercat

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Reply #41 on: September 20, 2014, 01:36:43 AM
ambiguity is the rule of the land.

Or is it?

Ambiguity may or may not be the rule of the land, depending on where your land is located and the relative importance of local traditions in shaping laws.



davidthygod

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Reply #42 on: October 09, 2014, 02:29:52 PM
My simplistic review:  This was good but slow.  Interesting, but a little boring. 

Also, the guy has been alive for 20,000 years, I think I would have asked him some specific history-nerd questions.  Simak should have teased some details about how wrong our history books are, or something cliche like that. 

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


CryptoMe

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Reply #43 on: March 30, 2015, 04:15:50 AM
Sorry, this did not work for me. It wasn't bad, it just didn't get me very interested in the characters, which is sad considering that one of them is 20,000 freaking years old.