Drabblecast 164 - The Observer

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Drabblecast 164 - The Observer

Post by Kevin Anderson » Sat May 22, 2010 12:50 am

Drabble - The Miner
by Travis Scott Greer

The Observer
by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

And so we went in.
Combat formation, all five of us, me first, face masks on so tight that the edges of our eyes pulled, suits like a second skin. Weapons in both hands, back-ups attached to the wrists and forearms, flash-bangs on our hips.
No shielding, no vehicles, no nothing. Just us, dosed, altered, ready to go.


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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by munsi » Sat May 22, 2010 11:32 am

this was an incredibly powerful story that dealt with a lot of ideas. war's tendancy to dehumanize, genetic manipulation destroying the person manipulated, our unwillingness/incapability to recognize the "other", there was a lot going on here, and i loved it. powerful stuff.

that said, what really stood out about this story was the reader. the perfect blend of viciousness and vulnerability. if it weren't for her performance, i likely wouldn't have gotten nearly as much out of the story as i wound up getting. kudos

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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by Goldenrat » Sun May 23, 2010 3:50 am

Loved this episode. Drabblenews was off-the-charts funny. One of the best ever I would say. Absolutely classic. The Drabble was great. Short, sweet, and horrifying. The main fiction wasn't one of my favorites of the year but it was disturbing and kept my attention as I drove through a horrific storm. Well narrated. The artwork was creepy, too.
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by Mary Laura » Mon May 24, 2010 12:39 am

Norm,
You are the best white boy rapper ever.
Eminem's got nothing on you.
I was laughing so hard, I scared the squirrels off the oak tree in my front yard!

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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by moonowl » Mon May 24, 2010 3:48 am

...and all the girlies say he's pretty fly for a white guy!

Yo, at the end I was givin props to our brotha representin our rights. Keepin it real, rural style.
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by Richmazzer » Mon May 24, 2010 6:31 am

Oh God, the rap about Utah in the outro was priceless. Even beat his "Electoral Collage" rap back in the intro of that last Saki story. Screw eminem, having Norm pull this stuff out every week for the, I dunno, couple thousand at most that listen to this show, is like having our own personal Steve Martin isn't it? Norm, I'd love for you to get famous, because Knight Rider knows you deserve it how funny you are, but part of me really wants to keep you here with us. Honestly, if there is justice in the world, Norm will be the next Adam Sandler (but better, obviously.)

If there isn't justice in the world, we get him to ourselves! WIN/WIN!

And the story... YES! I'll be damned if Sarah Tolbert doesn't ever read a story well. She's easily become my favorite female reader on the Drabblecast so far.

The story was just phenomenal. Better on second listen, give it a try. Gritty and tragic, really grabs you by the facemask and pulls you in.
One question that bothered me though: OK, so nobody comes back alive yet she "remembers the squids not fighting back"? Does not compute. The combat seems hopeless yet easy at the same time. What makes it so dangerous if the squids are so surprised and easy to kill?

Other than that, which seems like a quick, easy fix, this story had everything right. I love how it matched the drabble (which was great!) in first person soliloquy to unknown listener/enemy.

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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by strawman » Mon May 24, 2010 12:47 pm

Mixed reviews from this Observer. I like Sarah Tolbert's reading and Kristine Kathryn Rusch's story, although I agree with Richmazzer. The horror of the piece may be that the "invading aliens" are simply a pretext to do R&D on the chip implantees. They may simply be human lab rats, with the squid merely the necessary objects of tweaked aggression. Although the Observer is necessary as narrator, her memory of who she once was is what horrifies. That women should be the most effective hosts due to the hook of their maternal instincts is a particularly nasty perversion.

It seems strange that the narrator never appears to have chosen to participate. As if she signed up because of one of those recruiting posters promising that she would "Be all that she could be", then shipped off to hell. (In fact, it's as if Rusch set out to imagine hell.) Just like the real army, I guess. Still, lack of informed consent absolves her of responsibility. She is used; a victim. Nit: I would probably have named the Remembered One.

I think the rap definitely belonged on B-Sides. The episode doesn't come with a warning. The minimal bleeping actually served to accentuate the rhythm of the obscenity and so highlight it, rather than mask anything.

It may be good rap, (if such a thing is possible). But sorry, Norm. IMO, instead of A+, that makes it C-rap.
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by dreamrock » Mon May 24, 2010 2:48 pm

I love rap. Just not any rap anyone has ever heard of (look up the music video to Aesop Rock's Coffee if you're curious). It was hard to avoid spittakes this morning. Harder still to set the last two minutes of the episode on repeat. And by "hard," I mean my fauxpod doesn't support that feature and I can't help but feel that if my fauxpod did have that feature, I'd be all "ba da ba da da! I'm lovin' it." Love how you mixed that into the bass line. Holy-crap-fantastic.

Munsi twabble goodness. Where wolf indeed. The drabble? Schadenfreude-by-proxy. Clever in the sense that it's a perspective I don't think we see often in fiction. And I don't know how to make that sound like I enjoyed it rather than just being mildly amused by it. So, I enjoyed it ... and was mildly amused.

I have the same question as Richmazzer, but I have a theory I'm pretty happy with. I like the idea that the squid people are slaves of the race humanity is really fighting and I'm going to say the only "human" warriors that survive are those that only encounter the squid people. And maybe the alien overlord people are capturing the humans, re-purposing them and having them fight humanity. :shock:

I enjoyed the story, but it's not quite going to make it to my favorites for this year.
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by jannypie » Mon May 24, 2010 6:30 pm

That opening burger-ordering-news-rap was hilarious dipped in awesome.
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by werebuffalo » Tue May 25, 2010 3:07 am

Wow. Just... wow. This might be one of the best DrabbleCasts I've heard in a very long time. And Sarah Tolbert's reading just added so much to the whole thing.

I also really enjoyed the rap; which is odd, as I usually dislike rap- intensely.

Keep it up!
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by Talia » Tue May 25, 2010 3:32 pm

RE: the squids not being much of warriors vs. not many coming back alive - the implication seems to me to be they wind up turning on each other. The way they were described, the warrior aspects of these ladies aren't exactly well-controlled. So they destroy and once they've destroyed and once they've destroyed, well, that's the only thing they know how to do, so they turn their violence on the next available target, themselves.

Good story. Reminds me a bit of a an Escape Pod story I heard a while back.. [tracks it down]

Oh, heh. I thought it was by Cat Rambo, but actually its another Rusch piece. :p

http://escapepod.org/2008/05/22/ep159-elites/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Which, in a rather weird coincidence, EP ran almost exactly two years ago.

Amusing rap. I disagree it belongs on B-Sides, but it perhaps should have come with a warning.
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by tbaker2500 » Tue May 25, 2010 3:43 pm

That was a really good episode despite the main story. I would have liked to see the story build and evolve; instead it started strong and ended up weak.
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by moonowl » Tue May 25, 2010 4:41 pm

Oh come on. No offense Strawman but I really disagree with the B-sides. Dude, I'm really surprised- you listen to MBDM and that was too much for you?!

Does the Drabblecast really need a PG-13 warning at this point? It doesn't have a clean rating on itunes as far as I can see. It isn't exactly a podcast with a history based for genteel or youthful ears. I don't mind an occasional over the top warning (pig brains, ew) but I'd get annoyed at Norm warning us about stuff at every dang show. I mean, rhythmic bleeping of mofo is somehow worse then the main story about victimization, self mutilation and ripping tentacles and eyes of innocent creatures that bleed color of soda?

Anyway...

The main story was a BIG eh. I really, really have heard the 'war is hell' theme enough in one lifetime unless it's extraordinarily well done. This wasn't. I really felt like between countless sci-fi stories from Enders Game to Robocop I've heard it all before. Sometimes in the exact same way.

I found the 'maternal instinct' thing a bit misogynistic? The concept surely made me roll my eyes as a 'ZOMG, Not the womenfolk, not the mamas!!!!' ploy at poking at the reader's sympathy. Blegh. I almost found it slightly disrespectful to the women and mothers around the world who serve.
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by Talia » Tue May 25, 2010 5:17 pm

moonowl wrote: The main story was a BIG eh. I really, really have heard the 'war is hell' theme enough in one lifetime unless it's extraordinarily well done. This wasn't. I really felt like between countless sci-fi stories from Enders Game to Robocop I've heard it all before. Sometimes in the exact same way.

I found the 'maternal instinct' thing a bit misogynistic? The concept surely made me roll my eyes as a 'ZOMG, Not the womenfolk, not the mamas!!!!' ploy at poking at the reader's sympathy. Blegh. I almost found it slightly disrespectful to the women and mothers around the world who serve.
Really? I didnt even remotely get that vibe from it. Extremely far, far, far from it. What exactly is misogynistic? As I understand there's actually scientific evidence behind the theory (presumably you're referring to the instict making women capable of being more ferocious fighters or whatever).

I just dont see how this is disrespectful at all, particularly since its referring specifically to a science fictional premise where the women aren't just recruits, but some of them are being used as guinea pigs by the government. This doesn't relate to today's military. (as far as we know anyway ;).

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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by Etaan » Tue May 25, 2010 5:22 pm

Norm, the whole of that podcast was way less than the sum of the parts. I don't think you could have picked a worse set of stories to bracket with silly raps about how uptight the Mormons are if you tried. The songs were funny (especially the outro), but would have been far better suited for a different week.

I enjoyed the Drabble and that at least set the table nicely for a very intense (props to Sarah) if rather dull main story. I had a bit of trouble staying interested once she started going on about the first, second and third parts of her identity and then, as tbaker and moonowl have pointed out, it just got weaker from there as the misogyny and conspiracy theories set in.
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by moonowl » Tue May 25, 2010 5:30 pm

It wasn't the concept per se, it was the way the concept was used in the story. I felt it was more for shock value then anything else. It fed into a stereotype of women in some innocent and harmless state of motherhood that usually needs protection.The character could have just as well been a man, but I feel she went with a woman character ONLY to poke at our sympathies of a pure and innocent concept like protecting your babies, then turned it into the shock of a hapless killing machines.

By 'almost slightly disrespectful', women do horrible things IRL on the lines right now. They don't need to be chipped or shot up to do it. IMO, while I know they are extreme animalistic fighters int he story, the implication here is that women need to be modified to serve kind of devalues it for me just a bit. However, I'm willing to give up this point, it's only a slight misgiving I have and not necessarily he author's intent.
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by tbaker2500 » Tue May 25, 2010 5:46 pm

Etaan wrote:Norm, the whole of that podcast was way less than the sum of the parts. I don't think you could have picked a worse set of stories to bracket with silly raps about how uptight the Mormons are if you tried. The songs were funny (especially the outro), but would have been far better suited for a different week.

I enjoyed the Drabble and that at least set the table nicely for a very intense (props to Sarah) if rather dull main story. I had a bit of trouble staying interested once she started going on about the first, second and third parts of her identity and then, as tbaker and moonowl have pointed out, it just got weaker from there as the misogyny and conspiracy theories set in.
I respect your opinion and see where you are coming from, but I disagree. I think the extra material saved the episode from a bad story. That same material wrapped around a similar themed story could be awesome, but, not every week can be a winner.
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by tbaker2500 » Tue May 25, 2010 5:50 pm

moonowl wrote:The main story was a BIG eh. I really, really have heard the 'war is hell' theme enough in one lifetime unless it's extraordinarily well done. This wasn't. I really felt like between countless sci-fi stories from Enders Game to Robocop I've heard it all before. Sometimes in the exact same way.

I found the 'maternal instinct' thing a bit misogynistic? The concept surely made me roll my eyes as a 'ZOMG, Not the womenfolk, not the mamas!!!!' ploy at poking at the reader's sympathy. Blegh. I almost found it slightly disrespectful to the women and mothers around the world who serve.
I'm a guy, and I don't have to deal with sexual discrimination and bias the way women often have to. That said, I saw nothing intentionally misogynistic. What I saw is an author wanting to tell a story of the hell of war/programmed killers with a new hook. Like you say, the genre is pretty full, and you need a new way in.
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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by Talia » Tue May 25, 2010 6:38 pm

moonowl wrote:It wasn't the concept per se, it was the way the concept was used in the story. I felt it was more for shock value then anything else. It fed into a stereotype of women in some innocent and harmless state of motherhood that usually needs protection.The character could have just as well been a man,
No it couldn't have - I can't listen to it right now I'm at work, but I recall it saying there was a biological reason women specifically were selected to be part of this program.

I dont agree it was done for shock value at all. The fighters were all female for a specific biological reason.

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Re: Drabblecast 164- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Post by Etaan » Tue May 25, 2010 6:43 pm

tbaker2500 wrote:I respect your opinion and see where you are coming from, but I disagree. I think the extra material saved the episode from a bad story. That same material wrapped around a similar themed story could be awesome, but, not every week can be a winner.
It's not so much the themes as the tone that I take issue with. As the editor, the podcast is Norm's product - not the stories within. The format of: Funny news item - Slapstick rap - Dark comedy Drabble - War is Hell horror story - Tongue-in-cheek Twitfic - Slapstick rap just grated on me. It seemed like they had parts A, B and C laying around and just threw them together. If a weak story needs to be "saved" by the narrator, it shouldn't be aired.
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