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Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:11 pm
by StalinSays
Feature: The People of Sand and Slag by Paolo Bacigalupi
Drabble: Horseless by Nathan Lee

Image

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
“Hostile movement! Well inside the perimeter! Well inside!” I stripped off my Immersive Response goggles as adrenaline surged through me. The virtual cityscape I’d been about to raze disappeared, replaced by our monitoring room’s many views of SesCo’s mining operations. On one screen, the red phosphorescent tracery of an intruder skated across a terrain map, a hot blip like blood spattering its way toward Pit 8.

Warning: Violent imagery, some explicit language, sexual encounters.

Art by John Deberge

Read by David Robison, Naomi Mercer, and Mike Boris

Twabble: “ I gave my cat a tinfoil hat and could no longer hear his voice. But, all nearby people collapsed like stringless puppets. ” by Algernon Sydney is Dead

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:03 am
by jason todd
sci fi Marley and me?

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:18 pm
by chemistryguy
Quite frankly, this one disturbed the hell outta me. Whether it was their blatant disregard for non-modified life or slicing up a dying dog to see what happens or just the vision of lording over a dead planet, this was the scariest story on any podcast this month. The limbless exercise in vulnerability didn't help.

It was a fantastic story and the multiple voice actors were spot on character. Bravo!

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:23 pm
by cphuntington97
I created an account just to comment on this.

I'm always a little disturbed not to see many comments on a story that "hits home" for me, because it makes me feel like a stranger; an alien even among the weird.

The story has me questioning my deepest values. I always thought that suffering is bad! And alleviating suffering is good. Period. Yet the characters in this story don't feel pain, and the results are logical and plausible to me. They are incapable of empathizing with other life.

Now I ask myself, what does it mean to be human? What ought people's goals be? Should the answer to the former question influence the answer to the latter?

Does suffering make us human?

Would a future of eternal consciousness experiencing eternal pleasure be a realization of human potential, or an impoverished experience?

What is "the good life"?

The story has me questioning my deepest held beliefs. That is the highest honor I can bestow on any art.

And it was beautifully realized, as always on The Drabblecast. :-)

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:15 pm
by ROU Killing Time
Thank you for sharing your comments. Welcome to the forums.

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:17 pm
by shagin
Kudos for the full voice cast! Once again, another stellar reading.

And what a beautiful, sad story. Chen's growing affection for the dog, the moment where the dog crawls up on the bed, the realizations at the end...wow...

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:04 pm
by Unblinking
Generally I am biased against stories where dogs die. But holy crapamole this story was effective. A lot of food for thought, and a good use of an off-kilter POV to scare the living hell out of me.

The main thought that I took from this is: preservation of other species is an important evolutionary behavior because, like it or not, at this point we still need other species around to survive from food to air filtration to decay, and so on. If we want to survive long-term we have to think about keeping plants and animals and bacteria and fungus alive with us.

If at some point, we can eat dirt for our food, and can be immune to radiation, that no longer remains necessary, and this story seems to carry that to its farthest degree where we literally don't care about anything anymore. There's no evolutionary advantage to caring about other things. The scary part is that this makes sense, while at the same time it makes me feel very sad and scared. Especially the line where they pondered what people from the past would see them as. "Gods," they say, nonchalantly, when I really see them as monsters. The only thing worse than monsters is monsters who think they're gods.

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:00 am
by strawman
Thesis: Anything which thinks itself God is either God or a monster.

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:47 pm
by Unblinking
strawman wrote:Thesis: Anything which thinks itself God is either God or a monster.
Or both. :)

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:22 pm
by strawman
Unblinking wrote:
strawman wrote:Thesis: Anything which thinks itself God is either God or a monster.
Or both. :)
That's why the Babel Probe is one of the best of DC.

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:35 pm
by Unblinking
strawman wrote:
Unblinking wrote:
strawman wrote:Thesis: Anything which thinks itself God is either God or a monster.
Or both. :)
That's why the Babel Probe is one of the best of DC.
Loved that one for similar reasons, still one of my faves.

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:46 pm
by Richmazzer
I have a feeling this one will be a big contender for the People's Choice Award this year. Equal parts awesome military scifi and disturbing dystopia.
Spoiler:
Can't believe they ended up eating the dog! So sad.
Great voice acting by the full cast crew. Love this 'ffin podcast.

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:05 pm
by strawman
Yes, in a couple of years, people will need something to cheer them up and put a smile on their face. This can be their version of The Jetsons.

If only.

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 8:13 pm
by Polecat
An enjoyable story, but one that threw up surprisingly little philosophical subject matter for me, in comparison to the other comments here.
If mankind were able to engineer him/herself to feel no pain, experience no empathy, regrow severed limbs and generally turn him/herself into a comic book superhero, mankind would cease to be human, and cease to be relevant to how we think about what we laughably describe as ourselves. In our society, individuals lacking in empathy are seen as socially undesirable, and generally labled as sociopaths or even psychopaths. This is for the very good reason that society judges itself to be more important than the individuals that make it up.

I'm not sure how relevant it is (my mind sometimes works in funny ways), but I was reminded of this passage:

For example, it is known that the miserable natives of Tierra del Fuego, when starving in Winter, would throttle and devour the oldest woman of the party; when asked why they did not rather kill their dogs, they replied, "Dog catch otters!" (from: http://www.1902encyclopedia.com/C/CAN/cannibalism.html )

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:54 pm
by uncre8d1
This was a hard story for me to finish. I'm a dog owner (pack leader from his POV), and
Spoiler:
to see the way the dog in the story is treated really grated on me. The casual abuse and discussion thereof really drove home the alien nature of these people and how far they've come (strayed?) from what I think of as humanity, even more than did the physical mods worthy of the Egyptian pantheon. And it makes sense to me that the mindset of these people is a logical outgrowth of their effective invulnerability. These are gods, and monsters, an only a few would even bear a passing resemblance to any living human - not that they would care enough to even feel scorn for us. We would just be talking dogs to them, and inside a week we'd be dinner.
I began the story as fresh-minded as I ever am. As the state of the people was revealed, I had a shock of superhero envy. The scariest part of the story for me, I think, is that the story's events did not totally wash away that envy.

After all, *I* would be a nice god.

Right?

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:10 am
by tbaker2500
This story was very well written, and superbly produced.
After reading all the philosophizing here, I feel that the production and quality of writing were effective in making listeners believe that things would turn out this way, given these abilities. That is a mark of a good story. I personally don't agree with the premise, but I think it was a good intellectual exercise.

Also, ever note how difficult to spell "philosophizing" is?

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:25 am
by TheBigBadG
Despite being overtly brutal there were some lovely sections in this. The whole bit on the beach was oddly beautiful (not counting the dismemberment), full of a distressing spectacle.
cphuntington97 wrote:I always thought that suffering is bad! And alleviating suffering is good. Period. Yet the characters in this story don't feel pain, and the results are logical and plausible to me.
They're a bunch of masochists though, aren't they. It's not that they don't feel pain, it's just that because it's no longer needed as a warning sign, because a few handfuls of mud and you're sorted, it just becomes another sensation in a hedonist existence. It's a very far-reaching conclusion of the 'selfish mankind consuming the Earth' idea. Once we're had everything on the surface, and assuming we've survived that far, there's only ourselves left to consume...
uncre8d1 wrote:The casual abuse and discussion thereof really drove home the alien nature of these people and how far they've come (strayed?) from what I think of as humanity
On the same theme, absolutely. I stopped thinking of them as human very early on though.

Re: Drabblecast 261 – The People of Sand and Slag

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:55 pm
by Scumpup
Part of it was the story art. Part of it was the limbless exercise. I came away feeling like I'd had a glimpse into the secret lives of action figures. The GI Joes, Barbies, Bratz, et. al. at the bottom of my daughter's old toy box share the artificiality and somewhat of the durability of the characters in the story. I think they're similarly baffled by biologic creatures.