Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

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Algernon Sydney is Dead
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Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by Algernon Sydney is Dead » Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:34 pm

Feature: Turning Point by Poul Anderson
Drabble: The First Wish by Phineas QB
Genres: Drama Sci-Fi

Image

Saturday, June 1st, 2013
Please, mister, could I have a cracker for my oontatherium?”

Not exactly the words you would expect at an instant when history changes course and the universe can never again be what it was. The die is cast; In this sign conquer; It is not fit that you should sit here any longer; We hold these truths to be self-evident; The Italian navigator has landed in the New World; Dear God, the thing works!–no man with any imagination can recall those, or others like them, and not have a coldness run along his spine. But as for what little Mierna first said to us, on that island half a thousand light-years from home . . .

Episode Art: Neil Googe

Twabble: “ A mugger stops 2 guys for money. As they both take out cash, one guy hands the other a bill & says, "Here's that 20 I owe you!" ” by Algernon Sydney is Dead

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strawman
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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by strawman » Sun Jun 02, 2013 2:19 pm

Enjoyed this, even though Mierna's description immediately reminded me of an Anime character. In fact, somebody needs to pitch this episode to Hayao Miyazaki. :idea: DC acquires Studio Ghibli! Kickstarter might cover that!

Sorry, brief manic wave. (ROU understands)

Anyway, my one beef is that civilizational memes are not explicit and conscious, as if Andrew Jackson rubbed his hands together and said to his cabinet, "I think we need to drive the Cherokee to Oklahoma so our fellow Democrats can be free to make moonshine". No no no. Direct proposals of genocide weren't even explicit in the Third Reich. When considering unspeakable evil, men need a way to frame their thoughts in noble frameworks and high moral tones, so the The York Times can sell it with a clear conscience.

Men might well arrive at the same result, but the forthright discussion of wiping out the big-eyed race of idealized My-Little-Pony innocents? I need to kill a puppy. Does anyone know where I can borrow a blunt instrument?

But I think Miyazaki could frame it just right.
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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by Varda » Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:01 pm

I thought colonialism and cultural imperialism when I first heard this too, but after some reflection, I also think it's a story about the sort of jealousy that runs in intensely intellectual circles--the belief that what matters is not so much the pursuit of a certain knowledge or art, but what matters is being the first to get there or being the best. I hear this is prevalent in many branches of scientific research. Everyone's competing to be the first to get credit for a discovery to the point where the science itself is no longer the goal. Thus competition trumps cooperation.

In this story, the alien race values cooperation over competition--they immediately share the knowledge they receive from the humans, and collaborate together to advance their tech. Unfortunately, the humans who have been chosen to make contact with these aliens are a bunch of competitive types who view the achievements of others as a sort of personal threat to their own achievements. IMHO, they're projecting their own personality flaws on the rest of humanity when they assume it's a bad thing if a more intelligent species outstrips Earth's knowledge.

But even among human beings, not everyone agrees that competition is better than cooperation. I bet if Earth had chosen a shipful of, say, elementary school teachers or housewives to make contact, they'd have come to very different conclusions about what the future of the galaxy would look like once the aliens came into their own. After all, one of the central functions of genius is improving quality of life for the masses. Only the people who already think of themselves as unusually smart will be threatened by a species that raises the bar on IQ levels. Those of us comfortable with averageness can just shrug and look forward to all the awesome new art, science, and culture we're about to enjoy.

Strawman, I second your opinion that Miyazaki would know just what to do with this. It did have themes reminiscent of Princess Mononoke, now that I think about it.
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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by El Barto » Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:07 am

I loved this episode, though I was hoping for a different ending ... In which the Earthlings discussing genocide all realize they've been poisoned by the alien race who saw it all coming a little faster.

The Drabble was one of the best ever but the Twabble was just an old joke I'd heard before.

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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by chemistryguy » Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:33 pm

El Barto wrote:I loved this episode, though I was hoping for a different ending ... In which the Earthlings discussing genocide all realize they've been poisoned by the alien race who saw it all coming a little faster.
I was waiting for the humans to wipe out the alien civilization. And they did so without spilling a drop of blood. Caught me off guard.

What I can't buy is that the wheel went uninvented until Earthlings arrived.

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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by Flintknapper » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:24 pm

Cool story I had not heard before. I love the way the humans destroy them by adding them to their own way of life. It made me think of the USA. The way our culture pretty much absorbs anything it sees as valuable and then we send it back out to the rest of world marketing it as American ingenuity.

Also good reading. Though I expect nothing else from this narrator... hehe...

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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by strawman » Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:48 am

Flintknapper wrote: It made me think of the USA. The way our culture pretty much absorbs anything it sees as valuable and then we send it back out to the rest of world marketing it as American ingenuity.
Particularly evident in jazz and blues.

I can't help but be reminded of the sports events at which the crowd yells, "U-S-A! U-S-A!" as if national origin is a character trait. Imagine hearing that at a Wynton Marsalis performance. :lol:
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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by ROU Killing Time » Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:25 am

strawman wrote:Enjoyed this, even though Mierna's description immediately reminded me of an Anime character. In fact, somebody needs to pitch this episode to Hayao Miyazaki. :idea: DC acquires Studio Ghibli! Kickstarter might cover that!

Sorry, brief manic wave. (ROU understands)
Lately I've been battling the other extreme.
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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by strawman » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:04 pm

ROU Killing Time wrote: Lately I've been battling the other extreme.
So many settle for a life lived safely within the margins. If life were an EKG, their goal would be to flatline.
B-O-R-I-N-G.

Halleluia for battling at the extremes! You're the drum section in the parade, buddy.
Never judge anyone until you have biopsied their brain.

"Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle."
Known Some Call Is Air Am
Spoiler:
Non sum qualis eram = "I am not who I will be"

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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by ROU Killing Time » Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:42 pm

strawman wrote:
ROU Killing Time wrote: Lately I've been battling the other extreme.
So many settle for a life lived safely within the margins. If life were an EKG, their goal would be to flatline.
B-O-R-I-N-G.

Halleluia for battling at the extremes! You're the drum section in the parade, buddy.
I thought I was in the trumpet section.
"Never fuck with The Culture"
Sublime In Peace Iain M. Banks.

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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by strawman » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:01 pm

ROU Killing Time wrote: I thought I was in the trumpet section.
You're the drummer in the trumpet section :lol:
Never judge anyone until you have biopsied their brain.

"Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle."
Known Some Call Is Air Am
Spoiler:
Non sum qualis eram = "I am not who I will be"

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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by ROU Killing Time » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:56 pm

strawman wrote:
ROU Killing Time wrote: I thought I was in the trumpet section.
You're the drummer in the trumpet section :lol:
That explains the funny looks I've been getting.
"Never fuck with The Culture"
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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by Andrew Styles » Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:49 am

i thought the "Assimilation" was a bit jarring. Genocide was discussed, and all of a sudden, they just become integrated. Other than that, I found the story a bit scary. Imagine if they weren't so peaceful! What a great story, and all in all, I liked it.
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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by tbaker2500 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:49 am

Good story. But what I love is coming here and finding that Strawman deconstructs one interpretation of the story (which I had not thought of but I agree with) and then read Varda deconstructing the story with great insight lighting up another interpretation of the story with which I agree.

I think this story suffers a bit form the same problem as "A Fine Point". People come to realizations to quickly, with too much certainty. However, I guess if we had to wait for them to properly process everything, it would be booooring.

Overall good classic SF.
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Re: Drabblecast 284 – Turning Point

Post by Theory42 » Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:02 am

Great ending, and unexpected, though this does have historical precedent in a way. The Israelites under the Babylonian empire come to mind.

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