Author Topic: EP103: The Watching People  (Read 20697 times)

jimscreechy

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Reply #25 on: May 21, 2007, 09:50:07 PM
Yah I’m a little late on this one too but what the hey, I will throw in my two cents anyway.  I really liked this story it is without doubt one of my favorites.  The fact that for days after I kept thinking about it and picturing the scenes mentally is a true testament of is brilliance. 

Having said that I do have one (smallish) gripe that kept kneading me in the side on each of the four occasions I listened to this story (yes  I liked that much). Generally I am able to ignore of small creases in the fabric of plausibility that can sometimes ruffle a story, and I think it is probably ‘because’ this story was so well contrived that this point is a bit of a stumbling block for me.  But, I just found it weird that the doctor was not better able to interpret the social and communicative mannerisms of this race.  He certainly seemed to be no expert in dealing with alien civilizations. Actually, I suppose it is quite plausible he is a bumbling idiot and deliberately made to be so by the author.  How else could his complete lack of caution and abject stupidity in traversing the planets unfamiliar environment be explained.   Lord knows we have our fair share of incompetence in all areas of our society now. 

Also, initially I was totally pissed off that the story ended when it did, but this was only because I was enjoying it so thoroughly.  Now I think the conclusion was absolutely spot on.



JoeFitz

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Reply #26 on: May 21, 2007, 10:25:40 PM
Loved the story, the very evocative and excellent descriptions of an entirely convincing alien culture and world. Although there was an enormous danger of the "arrogant anthropologist" tract, the author only sprinkled in a few elements. I loved that the anthropologist was actually being watched by a sophisticated and organized group that had faults of their own.

Fatally, the Watching People do not question. (Western) science is all about questioning (testing) observations. Asking questions, while well-explained as a sign of lack of observation, can also be exactly the opposite. Once all the possible observations are made, there _are_ still questions. The People make equally dangerous assumptions about the Doctor by concluding he also something to be exploited (in their case, for food) after everything "useful" has been learned.

The Tall people story within the story was excellent foreshadowing of the potential for the People to get a hold of a "boat" that crossed "water that no one could cross." Also, the story-within-the story of imprudent, unobservant members of the village being killed - like these two youths inadvertently calling down a space ship that might conjure up another, more dangerous, consequence than the killer bees.

I was, however, a little disappointed with the narrative technique of recounting the exact words of the Doctor and the "box" without leaving the perspective of the narrator. I understand that it was both necessary exposition and in keeping with the story's description of the careful observations by the narrator's People. But, it was a little too convenient for me and odd, given that the narration was itself (necessarily) in English. I would have preferred a shift in perspective for those moments. A very minor, quibble, given the many positive attributes of the story.



bamugo

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Reply #27 on: June 15, 2007, 01:20:37 PM
As much as I would have LOVED to hear more (and I wish Mr. Berger WOULD go ahead and write a novel about the Watching People), I have to agree that as a short, it ended right where it should have. To reveal the ship would have been like showing the aliens in "Contact". It would have spoiled the overall effect.

Also, the People are astute, even if they couldn't grok the ship and how to work/replicate it in a matter of days, one or two generations would have been more than enough, and they're smart enough to keep at it for that long.

My compliments to the chef on such a compelling narrative. I found myself wanting the People to succeed, despite the fact that they'll eat me!



Listener

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Reply #28 on: June 15, 2007, 03:37:03 PM
As much as I would have LOVED to hear more (and I wish Mr. Berger WOULD go ahead and write a novel about the Watching People), I have to agree that as a short, it ended right where it should have. To reveal the ship would have been like showing the aliens in "Contact". It would have spoiled the overall effect.


Perhaps that's why "The Forgotten" had, to me, such a flat ending.  And also "Signs".

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bamugo

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Reply #29 on: June 15, 2007, 03:57:25 PM
I don't know The Forgotten...

Signs is a good case study for what not to do. Except in rare cases (take Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and another Spielberg one, Taken), you have to either keep the mystery a mystery or else don't create the air of mystery at all.

If you build up the expectation too much, whatever you end up offering will certainly be a disappointment.

The monster is scarier if it never comes out from under the bed. (oooh, that's a good one!)



Listener

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Reply #30 on: June 15, 2007, 04:17:17 PM


The monster is scarier if it never comes out from under the bed. (oooh, that's a good one!)

Unless it's Howie Mandel and you're Fred Savage.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

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bamugo

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Reply #31 on: June 16, 2007, 01:35:38 PM
If I was Fred Savage, I think I would kill myself. I have a completely irrational disliking for the man.



Michael

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Reply #32 on: June 16, 2007, 10:11:51 PM
This was an awesomely good story.



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Reply #33 on: June 17, 2007, 12:49:18 PM
The monster is scarier if it never comes out from under the bed. (oooh, that's a good one!)
Unless it's Howie Mandel and you're Fred Savage.

I had to go to IMDB to figure this one out.  Just a little obscure.



Heradel

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Reply #34 on: May 17, 2010, 03:57:28 PM
Hey folks,

We're aware that this episode's gotten slightly (well, very) mangled over time, we're working to obtain a clean version of it (incidentally, if someone has a clean version sitting around somewhere PM me).

--Bill

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Unblinking

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Reply #35 on: May 17, 2010, 04:52:10 PM
Abrupt endings can feel like a cop-out sometimes, but in this case I think the ending works because it fits in with the themes of the story. You're not given a direct answer to the question "What happens next?"  Instead, you have to figure out what will happen by using your observations from the rest of the story. I think the Watching People would approve.

This is exactly what I thought.  To give it a more explicit ending would have completely betrayed the point of the story, especially since it's told by a Watcher.

I really enjoyed this one, and was sad that it didn't quite make it on my Best of Escape Pod list.  I really wanted to put in on but the competition was just a bit too stiff.  Call it a near miss.  I love how this culture is so different from ours and the practice of no questions makes them so much more powerful.  I'm not sure they'll actually take over the galaxy, it just depends on what happens in the first uses of the ship.  If they don't know how to fly it, they could crash it, or run it out of fuel in deep space, or send it into a sun.  But if they get the hang of it and make it other planets, let their civilization spread, then I think they'd become a major influence, finding ways to acquire more ships and spreading far and wide. 



Heradel

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Reply #36 on: May 19, 2010, 05:08:43 AM
Ok, it should be fixed now. Let me know if anyone has any trouble with it.

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Fenrix

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Reply #37 on: July 30, 2015, 05:13:54 PM
I listened to this one while also reading Speaker for the Dead by OSC. There's some really nice resonance with the revelation of the alien culture but is an awesomely compact format. This is a pretty great story, and it ends right where it should.

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