Drabblecast 150 - Morris and the Machine

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Unblinking
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by Unblinking » Thu Feb 03, 2011 6:55 pm

Unblinking wrote:
strawman wrote:As I recall, The Time Traveler's Wife's sexual ethics was memorable for its utter lack of any.
Didn't he take his own virginity?
Well for me there was one intriguing bit of sexual ethics. SPOILER for anyone who hasn't seen the movie. Note that I haven't read the book, only seen the movie, so it's possible that this doesn't exist in the book.

As he gets older he decides he doesn't want to have kids, because his random-time-jumping might be genetically passed on. So he gets a vasectomy without even talking to her about it. She finds about it sooner or later, and is upset, and the next time one of his younger pre-vasectomy selves comes popping by, she decides to get herself pregnant by him and succeeds in doing so.

That's a confusing bit of ethics there for me. She didn't cheat on him, but rather than talking it out about whether they wanted to have children she used a version of himself before he made the decision not to have kids, in order to have kids. I'm not totally sure if that's unethical, and I go back and forth on the question (though it does seem like there are intentional communication problems stemming from both sides).

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by swamp » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:28 pm

Unblinking wrote:
strawman wrote:As I recall, The Time Traveler's Wife's sexual ethics was memorable for its utter lack of any.
Didn't he take his own virginity?
Well for me there was one intriguing bit of sexual ethics. SPOILER for anyone who hasn't seen the movie.

As he gets older he decides he doesn't want to have kids, because his random-time-jumping might be genetically passed on. So he gets a vasectomy without even talking to her about it. She finds about it sooner or later, and is upset, and the next time one of his younger pre-vasectomy selves comes popping by, she decides to get herself pregnant by him and succeeds in doing so.

That's a confusing bit of ethics there for me. She didn't cheat on him, but rather than talking it out about whether they wanted to have children she used a version of himself before he made the decision not to have kids, in order to have kids. I'm not totally sure if that's unethical, and I go back and forth on the question (though it does seem like there are intentional communication problems stemming from both sides).
Yes, that is what I was referring to as well.

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by strawman » Fri Feb 04, 2011 1:59 am

Well, speaking of the other, is that rape or masturbation?
Are Now-You and Then-You two people, in the same way as Here-You and There-Them are?
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by Unblinking » Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:40 pm

strawman wrote:Well, speaking of the other, is that rape or masturbation?
Are Now-You and Then-You two people, in the same way as Here-You and There-Them are?
Referring to Morris and the Machine?

I'd say it's definitely not masturbation because it involves another human being. It would only be masturbation if there were evidence that the Pennys do not exist (like a VR setting or something) and I don't think there's evidence of that.

Regarding rape... I guess I'd say no in this case, but I still think it's unethical. It's definitely seduction, but a sort of seduction that depends on knowing much more about your target than they could possibly know. I guess I might say it's similar to a mind-reader using his mind-reading as an advantage in seduction, but this is an even more gray area because the knowledge he has of Penny was not gained unethically--he gained it through a normal life with her. He is just using the knowledge in an unethical way to seduce her younger self.

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by strawman » Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:20 pm

No, I was referring to Time Traveller's Wife.
This is a bit like the quandry raised in Rangifer Volans by John: What are the ethical implications of killing someone who only exists because you believe in them?

That kinda question is what I enjoy most from speculative fiction. Because it's speculative. And because it's fiction.

It's one of the few ways you can be wrong without consequences. As long as you stay clear of the alliteration police.
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by Unblinking » Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:50 pm

strawman wrote:No, I was referring to Time Traveller's Wife.
This is a bit like the quandry raised in Rangifer Volans by John: What are the ethical implications of killing someone who only exists because you believe in them?

That kinda question is what I enjoy most from speculative fiction. Because it's speculative. And because it's fiction.

It's one of the few ways you can be wrong without consequences. As long as you stay clear of the alliteration police.
For the Time Traveller's Wife--I'd say it's not masturbation, since it involves another human being. And it's not really rape because both the Now-You and the Then-You are consenting sex partners, and this couple was aware of the time jumping since they met, so their continued relationship implies that they're both okay with each having sex with differently-aged others.

I'm not sure there's a handy word to describe the ethical dilemma because there's not really a good non-speculative comparison for it where there are two versions of the same person who have differing opinions on major questions of their own life--I guess the closest would be mental disorders like multiple personality or memory loss from Alzheimer's or other conditions?

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by strawman » Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:54 pm

Unblinking wrote: And it's not really rape because both the Now-You and the Then-You are consenting sex partners
But his Then-You was underaged.
Never judge anyone until you have biopsied their brain.

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by Unblinking » Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:58 pm

strawman wrote:
Unblinking wrote: And it's not really rape because both the Now-You and the Then-You are consenting sex partners
But his Then-You was underaged.
Was he? I didn't remember that detail. I thought he was of age, but he was just younger than the Now-You that had gotten the vasectomy. In the movie at least he never really looked younger than late-20s or so (except when he was a child). Maybe in the book he was younger, I haven't read that.

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Re: Drabblecast 150 - Morris and the Machine

Post by Varda » Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:04 pm

I'm surprised this thread hasn't been Lazarus'ed since 2011! Oh well, here goes...

On the subject of "is it rape?", I'm with Mr. Tweedy: if it doesn't meet any precise modern definition of rape, that's just because we don't have time machines, but if we did, this would surely fall within the definition. The closest analogy I can think of this is:

Patty is married to Jim. Jim has an identical brother named Tim. One day, Tim decides he wants to sleep with his sister-in-law, and does so by telling Patty he's Jim. From her perspective it looks like consensual sex with her husband, for which she'll feel no guilt or regret for as long as she's unaware of what actually transpired. This is still wrong, wrong, wrong, and a violation in every sense of the term except without violence.

Old Morris has basically the same relationship to the Morris of 17-year-old Penny's universe. They are physically identical the way twins are, but not identical people (established through the fact that this is not Orwellian time travel, and each Penny he visits is a different dimension's Penny). Penny sleeping with him is contingent on Old Morris being the same person she's currently dating. He's not. He's a twin from a different universe. Ergo, he raped his twin brother's girlfriend.

I would say 17-year-old Penny has some culpability if it weren't so clear that Morris is so completely in control of the situation, a la "Groundhog's Day".

Anyway, all of this aside, what a great, great story. Perfect in every way, great production, thought-provoking, haunting, pretty much awesome in every way a story can be.
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