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Drabblecast 256 – Roanoke, Nevada

Posted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:12 am
by StalinSays
Feature: Roanoke, Nevada by Edward J. Knight
Drabble: You Can't Go Home Again by Chris Munroe


Friday, September 14th, 2012
“It’s the extra-terrestrials,” the General said, watching for my reaction. “Our extra-terrestrials are falling ill.”

“Really?” I couldn’t keep the disbelief out of my voice. My eyes wandered back to the picture on the general’s wall.

He noticed. “That’s an untouched photo,” he said. “The aliens are real, and they’re here…”

Art by Spencer Bingham

Twabble: “ "She'll ruin your faith with her casual lies," the phone sang. I never programmed that as her ringtone. Smart phone, eh? ” by Bell

Re: Drabblecast 256 – Roanoke, Nevada

Posted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:37 pm
by chemistryguy
I for one welcome our bulbous-headed overlords.

Re: Drabblecast 256 – Roanoke, Nevada

Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:44 am
by KillerKayak
What a great story! Love the ending, didn't expect that one. One of those great Sci Fi stories that goes way beyond, brings a great ethics question at the end. :D

Re: Drabblecast 256 – Roanoke, Nevada

Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:17 am
by tbaker2500
When I saw the title, I knew Norm chose this one. He likes him some Roanoke!

This was a very good story. My only complaint is it was too long and procedural, but that makes it stand out as SCIENCEfiction, not scienceFICTION.

I was surprised by the ending, and rather torn. I don't really agree with him.

Re: Drabblecast 256 – Roanoke, Nevada

Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:20 pm
by bell
And unlike the previous story, I was able to finish it without being seized by uncontrollable nausea. I'm glad I never found out what the dead Eridani smelled like. Charles Dexter Ward was Too Much Sensory Input.

And - squee! - Norm used my Twabble!

Re: Drabblecast 256 – Roanoke, Nevada

Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:00 pm
by shagin
Perhaps my favorite DRABBLECAST of 2012. A strong story, well read, with enough science to cement certain concepts but not so much as to bog down the tale. The main character's reactions to the aliens fit quite nicely with the narrative.

I wasn't certain where the story was going. I had a few ideas, and wondered if the character would follow the same threads, and in the end the ending came and I sighed with the character as he left the viewing platform.

That is not an easy decision to make. Do you sacrifice a few to save your race? How do you handle the realities of overcrowding? How would history have changed if colonists had been turned away? Serious questions.

Well done, Drabblecast!

Re: Drabblecast 256 – Roanoke, Nevada

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:20 pm
by ElectricPaladin
I thought this one was... interesting. Certainly thought-provoking. However, I also think it was, ultimately, quite flawed.

Here's the problem: in order to make the narrator heroic, the author made everyone else an idiot.

The problem of the aliens was immediately apparent to me, even before I learned how fast they reproduce. Afterwards, the idea that everyone else wasn't asking themselves "where are we going to put these guys?" was laughable and distracting. I get that the story was all about the narrator being forced to make a terrible choice, but come on...

What makes this flaw so frustrating is that it would have been easy to solve. All it would have taken was a line or two of dialogue where one of the supporting characters gives some indication that this problem has been considered and that there is a solution in mind. The narrator then just has to chose not to believe in that solution.

However, I think that this flaw leads into the greater problem: this story was a moral cheat.

At the end of the story, the narrator has done something horrible. He's committed an act of genocide. The aliens he's murdered have - as far as we know - all intentions of sharing our planet peacefully to the benefit of all, and have no choice about going home.

In this day and age of entirely justified anti-imperialist sentiment, it's easy to forget that in the history of colonization, most colonies have consisted of people who had no choice about leaving and no home to come back to, like criminals, the desperately poor, and oppressed religious minorities. Most colonies have also included, say, innocent children. I'm not apologizing for colonialism and imperialism - what I'm saying is that the hard reality is that there are individual innocents and people with the best of intentions on both sides of these conflicts. Some day, let me tell you about how it sometimes seems to me, looking at our history, that America almost could have been a multiracial anglo/native state, with the two populations peacefully coexisting and gradually interbreeding, their cultures and religions gradually mixing.

Anyway, the narrator didn't care about the innocents, or the possibility that the aliens had no way to go home and no home to go back to - he made his choice and doomed all these people to die. It was important to the story that there be no solution to the problem - that all the other characters be idiots - because it made the moral situation more black and white (blacker and whiter?). With no alternative on the table, genocide becomes a lot more attractive, and the narrator's choice less repugnant. If there was a solution - and I maintain that it's foolish to think that there wouldn't be, even a flawed and complicated one - that the narrator chose not to believe, then the narrator's choice would have been a lot more complicated, and the story all the better for it, but he would have lost some of the readers' sympathy.

Re: Drabblecast 256 – Roanoke, Nevada

Posted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:19 am
by tbaker2500
Thank you for a well constructed, thought provoking post!
I agree with everything you say there. However, I don't fully believe that the story itself is where the fault lies. I see many people in real life choosing to make an issue much more black and white than it really is, in order to:
A. Justify their emotional feelings on the subject, or
B. Make life's decisions easier.

I viewed the story, intentionally or not, as showing a person's failure to be smarter.

With regards to why any body else had not addressed the population issue- it didn't feel to me like the story failed to address that, it felt to me like the main character failed to consider if anybody else had also considered it. He asked very little, he cared to learn little besides his own field. I think that he just felt it was up to him.

I think we feel the same way about the story. You placed blame on the author, I placed blame on the character. I wonder who is right?

Re: Drabblecast 256 – Roanoke, Nevada

Posted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:44 am
by Algernon Sydney is Dead
I just lurved it 'cause the problem could be said that each "Alien ate itself to death." (Okay, maybe not exactly, but that was a germ of the problem.)

It was a bonus that the hero got to help kill all the damn "furriners".

I don't agree that the supporting cast was crippled. And by that token, it seems that the epilogue would have to show our "hero" getting fingered, and the others figuring out both: the correct dose and how to operate the cryo controls.

The alien invasion recommences, only OUR inevitable "Trail of Tears" takes us to the Moon! :D

PS: Every sensible man knows that the original Roanoke died, not due to hostile Injuns, but due to the same thing that almost killed Plymouth. That is, Socialism.

Re: Drabblecast 256 – Roanoke, Nevada

Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:56 pm
by Unblinking
I completely agree with ElectricPaladin. This story drove me nuts because the problem should've been apparent very early on to any thinking person, and the story seemed to be populated by idiots just to drive the moral dilemma.

Assuming the aliens don't have religious objections, how about birth control? I'm sure Trojan would be happy to make a new model to sell to the aliens in order to save humanity from invasive species.