Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

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Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:39 am

Feature: The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin
No drabble for this episode.
Genres: Drama Sci-Fi

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Monday, July 15th, 2013
He was not alone.

There was nothing to indicate the fact but the white hand of the tiny gauge on the board before him. The control room was empty but for himself; there was no sound other than the murmur of the drives — but the white hand had moved. It had been on zero when the little ship was launched from the Stardust; now, an hour later, it had crept up. There was something in the supply closet across the room, it was saying, some kind of a body that radiated heat…


Episode Art: Rodolfo Arredondo
Read by: Bryan Lincoln- Narrator, Stephen Granade as Barton, Rebecca Rinas as Maralyn, Dan Kelly as Delhart, Alex White as Gerry Cross, Michael Stokes as Man from Group 2, Hugh O'Donnel as Ships Records, John Riendeau as Man on the Stardust

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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby strawman » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:34 pm

Okay. This was sad.

The main way this episode dates itself is that back in 1954, people had sympathy for naive little misbehaving girls.

59 years later, it would take the audience of Showtime at the Apollo 20 seconds after hearing "But it's not my FAULT! I didn't DO anything!" for the third time before they'd be shouting something like,

"Shove dat ho'
Out de do';
We can't take dat shit no mo'."

And then there was a moment of embarassment when mention was made of what sounded like a typewriter ribbon for a computer printout.

But the point is made. Of the 3 billion (now 6.5 billion) people on earth, 99% of them die having DONE nothing to warrant death. And no one has yet to acknowledge it was their fault.

Extraneous observation: There was the possibility that the EDS commander could have sacrificed his own life for the girl. I thought, "No that can't be, because the commander has the ship to run, duties to perform." But then I realized that the EDS captain has done nothing more than converse with the girl, explain, console, check with the Cruiser, radio the brother, and feel bad. He is apparently there for no other purpose than executing stowaways.

This left me with a vague fantasy of the Gerry Springer Show audience screaming out to save the girl and ditch the captain, who represents the implacable forces of nature, representative of oppression, sexism and imperialism.

"But it's not my FAULT! I didn't DO anything!" as timely in 2013 as it was in 1954.

Go, Drabblecast.
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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby DireCari » Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:46 am

Geez. Throw a dead kitten on top.

Usually, when there is such early and sustained pathos, the author pulls out a happier ending. The fact that the plot was originally shaped for this, and then dramatically altered, may explain a lot. And yes, I did wonder if he'd shove her out the chute, just to get some peace.

Still, The Cold Equations works for me as a classic human-versus-environment meditation on mortality: we're all caught in the terminal equation of what is, our fragile pods hurtling toward the deceleration zone, some smug bastard making fun of our cheap sandals.

I don't know about you, but I didn't do anything, either.

Like strawman, however, I did notice that—except for re-setting the deceleration speed—Barton seemed expendable and might well have chosen to jettison himself.

But this was an older story, and between the firm, paternal EDS pilot (aka knowledge, reason and order) and the nubile little rule-breaker (aka ignorance, emotion and chaos), we all knew who would get the spanking.

(I confess I also found myself wondering whether tossing out the clunky communications equipment, pilot's seat, and all clothing—including bedazzled footwear and possible regulation moonboots—might be enough to offset 110 pounds, premise be damned.)

Alas. Campbell got his way, and depending on your views, maybe the girl did have to die—for the sake of all those metaphors. Still, I'm glad Godwin wanted to find a different equation.

Ironically, if he were alive today, Campbell might be the one hoping for a different equation: one that can save the old mathematical universe from the heresies raised by the Higgs particle.

It just may be that we are riding in an equation-defying mutant bubble of the multiverse, that chaos is the only source of life, that loving-kindness is the only thing that makes it worthwhile, and that moonboots weigh a ton.

Wherever we are, this episode was another fine piece of thought-provoking programming. Thanks, Drabblecast, for helping make things fun...till the airlock kicks open.
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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby Varda » Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:36 pm

DireCari wrote:(I confess I also found myself wondering whether tossing out the clunky communications equipment, pilot's seat, and all clothing—including bedazzled footwear and possible regulation moonboots—might be enough to offset 110 pounds, premise be damned.)

Yeah, pretty much my exact thoughts throughout the story. Every time an object was mentioned, I mentally shouted, "Well, why don't you throw that out the airlock, moron?" Pencil, paper, clothing, pilot's seat, communication equipment, food, water... if it's all run by computers, just replace it when you land and win moral brownie points. I thought the descriptions should have made it very clear that the ship was so Spartan that this wasn't a possibility.

My other grump's the fact that there's so much emotional mileage that relies on the belief that a girl's death is inherently worse than a guy's. I'd chalk it up to a relic of when this was written if this tired old trope weren't still used to death in our media today (I'm looking at you, video games!). On another level, the trope serves a slightly clever function in this story at getting someone who's accepted the necessity of airlock-euthanasia for all stowaways to suddenly re-examine his assumptions. If it was wrong but unavoidable to kill a doe-eyed, kitten-clutching little girl, then it's wrong when it's a man too. Everyone's life is equally precious to them, even if our blowhard narrator ranks 'em differently.

strawman wrote:"But it's not my FAULT! I didn't DO anything!" as timely in 2013 as it was in 1954.

My thoughts exactly. Some of our lives are novels, some are short stories, and for an unfortunate few, they're Drabbles. Not really a whole lot we can do about it except try to live life to the fullest, I guess.

Overall, very thought-provoking episode and very good production. I enjoyed the voice acting for Maralyn especially - really captured those teenage voice patterns for me, being simultaneously pathetic, sympathetic, parasympathetic, and other such divisions of the nervous system.
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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby silverflute » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:22 pm

I think it's natural, for the reader/listener to grasp at straws and try to figure out solutions and loopholes to save the girl. I wondered as well, surely there must be some expendable equipment/clothes laying around equaling 110 lbs that could be chucked out the ship to save her. I listened to the story again actually because the first time I was distracted trying to listen for extraneous items and estimate their weights (also because the production and voice acting of this was just brilliant and a pleasure to listen to twice.) Pencil, paper, both their sets of clothes, gun... in the end it seemed still a good bit away from 110 lbs. I get the impression there weren't many items on the ship without some necessity attached to them.

Also I wonder if they started making exceptions to policy for one girl, just because she's a girl, the whole system would start unwind. Physics aside, an argument can be made for her jettisoning just because she broke the law. In this universe on the frontier these EDS ships play a crucial role in saving lives and progressing humankind int space. You can't have dumb and naive civilians hopping around in them and jeopardizing important (and probably costly) missions any more than you can have terrorists, hijackers, drug trafficers, etc. It's clearly such an important task that these EDS ships have that a blanket policy as harsh as execution is necessary. So then here's my main beef with the story:

Why not have the warning sign say "No Trespassing UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH".

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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby DireCari » Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:29 am

Varda wrote:My other grump's the fact that there's so much emotional mileage that relies on the belief that a girl's death is inherently worse than a guy's. I'd chalk it up to a relic of when this was written if this tired old trope weren't still used to death in our media today (I'm looking at you, video games!).


I agree that there is sexism involved, but I'm not seeing it as a higher value being put on the girl's life. Traditionally the qualities that hard sf valued (knowledge, reason, order), indeed science itself, were characterized as male, and the qualities that it denigrated (ignorance, emotion, and chaos) were characterized as female.

This symbolism disappoints me, and I'm not excusing it, but I do understand its artistic expediency in the story as a piece of 50's sf.

The fact that the female is also nubile has to do with the--somewhat less than rational--steamy interior world of the anticipated male audience. Let's just leave it at that.


silverflute wrote: here's my main beef with the story:

Why not have the warning sign say "No Trespassing UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH".



Because one of the qualities Maralyn exemplifies is ignorance, she can't actually understand the implications of her actions, until it's too late.

Moreover, in this mode of narrative, it's important that the person who dies be someone who—according to ordinary human sensibilities— does not “deserve” a death penalty.

Creating culpability would concomitantly invoke a sense of moral agency in the workings of the universe, and so destroy the story, entirely.
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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby andyd273 » Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:19 pm

DireCari wrote:Because one of the qualities Maralyn exemplifies is ignorance, she can't actually understand the implications of her actions, until it's too late.

Moreover, in this mode of narrative, it's important that the person who dies be someone who—according to ordinary human sensibilities— does not “deserve” a death penalty.

Creating culpability would concomitantly invoke a sense of moral agency in the workings of the universe, and so destroy the story, entirely.


It would, in fact, destroy the story entirely. That doesn't mean that it isn't how it should be.
That was actually one of the things that detracted from the story for me; the line goes something like "People from Earth wouldn't know about the penalties of stowing away, and so a sign had been put up: Authorized personnel only". Really, they expect Authorized personal only to stop a criminally ignorant person?

On one hand I actually would have been disappointed if it had had a happy ending (this is not a normal opinion for me, but for this story it feels right), but on the other hand, 110 pounds is not that much weight. Seems like they could have found a few less than important things to chuck out.
Something like "Well, we got our clothes, the supply closet door, all of the loose items, a fractional amount of reserve fuel in our favor and the weather is clear. Unfortunately that gets us up to 85 pounds. The only way I can get you down to the ground is if you lose that leg. Better than breathing vacuum though."

My second thought is why didn't they have a way to kill people in the supply closet before the door opens.
If it was a hardened criminal instead of a young girl, I'd pretty much expect them to come out shooting, knowing that they would die otherwise.

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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby strawman » Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:12 pm

Woah, take me back to the 50's, and speculative fiction's roots, before things got really sophisticated with "The Outer Limits". Reminds me of that old Jules Verne artillery-to-the-moon movie - once upon a time people reacted to that the same way we respond to Star Wars? In retrospect it all seems corny. But considering female tropes, it occurs to me that the 50's pulp fiction, whether scifi or detective, was steamier than Playboy at the time. Imagination's the greatest erogenous zone.

Coarse back then, you couldn't get arrested for your thoughts. Progress, I s'pose. Except that if you've got a problem with that, then you're a helpless little girl.

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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby DireCari » Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:46 pm

andyd273 wrote:
DireCari wrote:Because one of the qualities Maralyn exemplifies is ignorance, she can't actually understand the implications of her actions, until it's too late.

Moreover, in this mode of narrative, it's important that the person who dies be someone who—according to ordinary human sensibilities— does not “deserve” a death penalty.

Creating culpability would concomitantly invoke a sense of moral agency in the workings of the universe, and so destroy the story, entirely.


It would, in fact, destroy the story entirely. That doesn't mean that it isn't how it should be.
That was actually one of the things that detracted from the story for me; the line goes something like "People from Earth wouldn't know about the penalties of stowing away, and so a sign had been put up: Authorized personnel only". Really, they expect Authorized personal only to stop a criminally ignorant person?

My second thought is why didn't they have a way to kill people in the supply closet before the door opens.
If it was a hardened criminal instead of a young girl, I'd pretty much expect them to come out shooting, knowing that they would die otherwise.


I believe I understand what you're saying andyd273. 8)

When you say “how it should be” you are referring to the surface story. The place where you'd think that even the cosseted suburbanites would be aware of any capitol offenses, that EDS portals would be secure, and that chatty teenagers would not be allowed anywhere in proximity.

What I'm proffering is that the surface story has been crafted to serve the subtext, leaving us with simplifications that--while not quite allegorical--certainly move in that direction, at the expense of some realistic detail.

This is a literary modality with a long and illustrious pedigree. Though we might wish for a smoother integration with the surface story, sometimes these “bumps” are our clue to look beneath the text, to find what's hiding beneath.

A contributing factor to our discontent is that this is not a pristine (hu)man vs implacable universe narrative. (Cf.London's To Build a Fire.)

Godwin has to deal with an array of intervening human artifacts: the EDS interior, Barton's presence, human legislation, and apparently lax boarding protocols.

Each of these non-natural elements is a weak link that allows the reader to argue against the premise.

When I say that alteration (e.g. increasing Maralyn's knowledge or culpability) would ruin the story, I'm speaking of the story qua art, not as a matter of personal taste, ideology or jurisprudence.

I dare say frying her in the closet sans dialogue would do violence to the narrative, as well. :wink:

If we can appreciate that, subtextually, The Cold Equations is an elegant little credo from the golden age of science fiction, maybe we can overlook the lack of boarding area security clearances.

Anyway, that's what makes it work for this reader listener. :mrgreen:
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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby Varda » Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:15 pm

DireCari wrote:What I'm proffering is that the surface story has been crafted to serve the subtext, leaving us with simplifications that--while not quite allegorical--certainly move in that direction, at the expense of some realistic detail.

This is a literary modality with a long and illustrious pedigree. Though we might wish for a smoother integration with the surface story, sometimes these “bumps” are our clue to look beneath the text, to find what's hiding beneath.

A contributing factor to our discontent is that this is not a pristine (hu)man vs implacable universe narrative. (Cf.London's To Build a Fire.)

Godwin has to deal with an array of intervening human artifacts: the EDS interior, Barton's presence, human legislation, and apparently lax boarding protocols.

Each of these non-natural elements is a weak link that allows the reader to argue against the premise.

This is a great insight, DireCari. In that vein, it reminds me a bit of Ep. 227 - "The Star" by Arthur C. Clarke, which suffers from a similar problem of the premise driving the plot construction. The plot and the characters become slaves to whatever "point" the author's trying to drive home, and if the reader's not already inclined to agree with the premises, then the process of reading becomes a bit antagonistic. Instead of suspending our disbelief and getting lost in the story, we're too caught up noticing the strings and the man above the puppet show manipulating them.

Given all that, I think you're right to point out this story's best enjoyed as a period piece, and given the background you've provided on what function the sexism served in this time period (ignorance vs. rationality), it's easier to laugh it off the way I do when I read Henry Rider Haggard's She. :)

This is just a personal thing, but I struggle to enjoy stories that are mainly allegorical in nature. I had similar problems with Ep. 217 - "Followed", even though I agreed with the author's point. When you write a story, in a sense you're a god of the mini-universe you create. You get to set the rules, and you get to make people behave however you want to. Unless done with a high level of skill, allegory feels like cheating because you got to make all the rules and decide how people would react, not because it's how real people would react but because you the author say so. It's like setting up a trial where you've got the verdict chosen in advance, but you also got to pick what evidence is presented, and then asking me to pretend like it was a real trial where something was really at stake. Just not my thing, I guess.
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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby alhilton » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:54 pm

When I saw this story in my podcatcher, I almost deleted it. I've heard it before, and I hate it. But...it's a Bryan Lincoln and Norm Sherman production, so...I listened.

And I still hate it, although it was very well-produced.

It is an effective story (as well as affective), and it does make profound observations about the human condition. It's a *good* story in many technical senses, but I still loath it.

It's depressing, obviously, but mostly I loath it for the reasons that everyone has already stated. The author's weird biases get in the way of his point and contribute nothing to it. The whole "OMG it's a Grrrrrrl!!" thing is old after a single repetition, and it seems like he says it about 40 times. It doesn't make sense, even giving the misogyny of the period. The point is that she's *young,* not female. She's got her whole life ahead of her. If the stowaway had been a 13-year-old boy, would the protagonist have grimly beat him about the head and shoved him out the airlock without qualms? Surely not. What about an 8-year-old boy? Does he get any pity? What about a 60-year-old, overweight female criminal? Does she get the same "It's a grrrrl!" nonsense? I doubt it.

Even in the 1950's, they surely understood the concept of generosity to children because they haven't gotten their fair turn on the ride. Emphasis of the stowaway's youth contributes to the story's main theme of death and the brevity of life and the human condition, whereas the emphasis on gender contributes nothing.

I was also baffled by the protagonist's insistence that the girl must "come to terms" with her senseless death. Whatever for? He's going to shove her out the airlock, whether she goes quietly or kicking and screaming. His stubborn insistence that she "come to terms" with her death seems mostly selfish. If she goes like a lamb, it's easier for him, but she's going to die either way. She will be out of her misery in short order. He is the one who will live with this memory, not her. Some admission that he's trying to make things easier for himself would balance the story better.

Finally, I really hate the way she dies. The author seems to take a sadistic pleasure in describing the agony of death in space. All the while, we're assured that the protag has a blaster in his pocket. He could give her a quick mercy shot before ejecting her body. But instead she's got to die choking on her own lungs. All because the protag is a rank coward. He wants to keep his hands as clean as possible. He's not dragging her out the door if he can get her to come gently, and no way is he putting a mercy shot in her head.

The fact that the protagonist's cowardice is never acknowledged (the author seems oblivious to it) and that the author seems to revel in the girl's fear and needlessly painful death really disgusts me.

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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby strawman » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:07 pm

Haha!

When I saw there was a comment from Abby Hilton on this story, I almost deleted it.

Why? because it would have been interesting to see if I could write my own Abby Hilton comment on this story, then see how close I came to her's. So I did that the lazy man's way, in my head. I've got to say, aside from a few conjunctions and interjections, I score about 95% Abby Hilton. :)
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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby alhilton » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:35 pm

strawman wrote:Haha!

When I saw there was a comment from Abby Hilton on this story, I almost deleted it.

Why? because it would have been interesting to see if I could write my own Abby Hilton comment on this story, then see how close I came to her's. So I did that the lazy man's way, in my head. I've got to say, aside from a few conjunctions and interjections, I score about 95% Abby Hilton. :)


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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby Richmazzer » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:57 pm

I agree with ahilton that the focus would have been better focused on her age, not her gender. The sympathy is there either way. At the same time I was not distracted- certainly did not loathe the story, because of alleged sexism. It was the 50's, people opened doors for women and shows had gentlemen throwing their coats over mud puddle for them. Of course making her a young girl would have been a reasonable choice to milk extra sympathyback then. Either way, that debate doesn't really strike me as the point here.

On the other hand, I was actually VERY surprised at how underplayed her death was. I actually "rewound" the story because I thought I'd missed it. I think it describes her as a "bump"in the airlock, then moves on.

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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby strawman » Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:49 am

alhilton wrote:Dude. Who put battery acid your coffee this morning? If you're going to mock me, at least spell my name right. It's Abbie.


I guess I deserve that, Abbie, for the mispellerization. :( But I wasn't mocking you, and wouldn't have posted anything if I thought it would give you that impression. I just enjoyed anticipating your criticism.
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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:30 am

I read this decades ago, and I've become a bit of a callous bastard since, but this story was still a kick in the pants. Every character is sympathetic, and every character does the right thing, within the confines of the silly story constraints.

The girl was a bit more whiny than I would have liked, but that's understandable, and she still meets her end with a high amount of grace. Nowadays, it's hard to believe there were really once kids like that (never mind adults). I can imagine swapping her out for any of my neighbors (or any face from current TV), with traji-comic results.

Some observations (before reading the thread):
  • This is a fantastic example of a very rare breed of story. The "sad ending" tale that (1) did not get there by reader/audience bashing or by super-ridiculous lapses of logic, and (2) showed the victims dealing with their bad situation with intelligence and honor. One more example of why John Campbell was one of the greats.
  • The irony is that all the men died anyway! The calculations were made with the girl's listed weight. Since when has any broad had the correct weight on her photo ID? :twisted: :P
  • About that. That extra 110 pounds (or more) would have been detected immediately, upon the launch of the EDS.
    Trust me, if the safety margin is cut that close (and the story has believable-ish reasons why they would be), then they would be much more careful about the EDS' mass. Hell, if a 1960's rocket launch had an extra few pounds, our slide-rule-slinging engineers knew about it very quickly.
  • After the first bastard got locked out of the air, warning signs and education would have been much clearer (or worse, lawyers would get involved). Marilyn would realistically, have had more and harsher realities explained to her, before she stowed away. "Extreme Danger" and "Lethal Force" signs, at a minimum.
  • The idea that they have FTL drive and FTL radio, but still rely on snail-mail, was ridiculous even when this story was written. Radio fax machines have been operational since the 1920's and precursor systems were around for decades before that.
  • Yes, it was my twabble, but Norm's pick was very thematically simpatico with death as the result of cold calculations.



Responses:
strawman wrote:...then I realized that the EDS captain has done nothing more than converse with the girl, explain, console, check with the Cruiser, radio the brother, and feel bad. He is apparently there for no other purpose than executing stowaways.

No. He also changed the acceleration to salvage the mission. In fact this is a perfect example of how/why we have pilots on what would otherwise seem as automatable flights... To detect and adapt to changing conditions and/or emergencies -- something this pilot did admirably.
Furthermore, you did not see this pilot at either of the normally crucial periods for any flight: Launch and Re-entry to landing.
That said, realistically, the pilot and the cruiser would both have the responsibility and the mechanisms to detect a mission-threatening deviation of mass during, or immediately after, launch.

The pilot also must have fudged his pre-flight checklist...
"Emergency supplies secure... Check."
"Closet empty or cargo secure..." *opens door* "Boobs... Uh, check" *closes door*...

PS: I've seen fatigued pilots make this kind of mistake, but usually with a wasp's nest or missing oil cap. :)


Varda wrote:If it was wrong but unavoidable to kill a doe-eyed, kitten-clutching little girl, then it's wrong when it's a man too. Everyone's life is equally precious to them, even if our blowhard narrator ranks 'em differently.

The narrator was very clear that the men he'd dealt-with, or heard about, were depraved and/or deluded in some offensive way. The girl supposedly made an "innocent" mistake with no intentions to harm anyone. Plus, unlike those others, she was prepared to "Pay the fine" and pay her way. She was just tragically wrong about what the cost was.


Various wrote:surely there must be some expendable equipment/clothes laying around equaling 110 lbs...

Maybe it's the engineering crowd I run with, but I thought this would be obvious. (1) You don't put a lot of expendable stuff on this kind of craft. (2) Considering the G forces involved, the pilot probably needs his chair to stay conscious, or maybe even alive. (3) If they are shaving fuel to such insane margins (which I doubt they would ever do in real life -- except in less "routine" emergencies), then there is no way, they wouldn't have already cut mass to the bone, to save that precious fuel.

Say the pilot ditches all their clothes, his pencil and tablet, his blaster, and even any reserve oxygen. We're still talking 23 lbs, tops. Everybody dies.
What's next? Amputate 4 legs? We can forgive him for not thinking of that even if it was near the top of my list. :twisted:


silverflute wrote:Why not have the warning sign say "No Trespassing UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH".

In reality they would have this. I'm guessing that the author did not visit many of the right (similar) facilities.


andyd273 wrote:on the other hand, 110 pounds is not that much weight.

Ah, but that's just what it said on her "Driver's License". ;)
Also, if the destination is Earth-like, then that's AT LEAST another 600 to 700 lbs of fuel+oxidizer needed to decel her mass (with 10 times that, being more likely).


andyd273 wrote:My second thought is why didn't they have a way to kill people in the supply closet before the door opens.
If it was a hardened criminal instead of a young girl, I'd pretty much expect them to come out shooting, knowing that they would die otherwise.

Good point. The answers are: (1) Criminals really were much more "civilized" in the 1950's, on average. (That's my recollection and the Hollywood myth, and I'm sticking to it.), (2) The author was making it up, versus stealing from real-life analogues.


The author seems to take a sadistic pleasure in describing the agony of death in space. All the while, we're assured that the protag has a blaster in his pocket. He could give her a quick mercy shot before ejecting her body. But instead she's got to die choking on her own lungs. All because the protag is a rank coward. He wants to keep his hands as clean as possible. He's not dragging her out the door if he can get her to come gently, and no way is he putting a mercy shot in her head.

The fact that the protagonist's cowardice is never acknowledged (the author seems oblivious to it) and that the author seems to revel in the girl's fear and needlessly painful death really disgusts me.

Wow. It's really sad how rare the concept of Death with Honor and dignity seems to be these days. (As oxymoronic as that may sound.)
Sorry, Abbie, you couldn't be more wrong about the character and about the author.

There is a time-honored tradition (now rare) of meeting your end with your eyes open and your head up. The pilot, and author, wanted to give this girl that chance and she took it admirably. Although, I am sure that the pilot would have given a mercy shot if she asked for it; she had the grace and honor not to make such a callous request.

He respected her feelings (the whole story shows that), and her honor and dignity. She did the same right back for him. In the end, they both did their duty with the utmost integrity. They were both Goddam Heroes! It's a shame you can't see that.

Contrast that to the true coward's way, which we see, almost weekly in police departments across the USA... The needle twitches. The pilot unloads a full clip into the closet, no doubt causing hundreds of thousands in collateral damage.

The pilot then waits a full 30 minutes to make sure whoever it is is dead, and while he calls for backup. The cruiser instructs him to jettison the body and abort the supply mission because the EDS is now a "crime scene". The pilot and cruiser both agree that the stowaway was a hardened criminal who "resisted arrest". Drugs, or a failed drug test, will probably be found.

Scores of people die; millions are impacted; trillion$ are wasted. But... "We had to make sure our men were safe."

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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby Beth Peters » Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:15 pm

First of all, this was an outstanding production. I don't think I've ever heard better voice acting on any audio production I can recently remember. Sets a new bar for full cast audio IMO. Kudos to the guest producer, I see why Norm is a fan.

Second, Algernon Sydney pretty much said everything I was going to say. This was overall a great story and I was actually moved a bit to tears at the end. That said, it did have some flaws and not just flaws that we can sweep under the rug of "oh but it's a golden age time piece". There definitely would have been a sign not just saying "No Trespassing" but also indicating the penalty as harsh as it was. Surely word would have gotten out how serious the offense was after the first handful of people received capital punishment for being stowaways.
Also, like Algernon said I found it hard to believe that the pilot, crew and a ship this advanced didn't have a way to tell there was a threatening differentiation in mass prior to lift-off.

But despite these, I thought the end was deeply poignant, particularly because of the emotional performances by sister and brother, and the story really resonated with me.
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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby tbaker2500 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:04 am

DireCari wrote:Geez. Throw a dead kitten on top.


Best comment so far!!


I fast forwarded most of the story, and didn't really miss anything besides extra pathos. :D Hey, I get that some people like this type of story. I'm not complaining.
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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby Beth Peters » Thu Aug 01, 2013 4:58 am

tbaker2500 wrote:I fast forwarded most of the story, and didn't really miss anything besides extra pathos.


Well, aside from maybe the best dramatic performance in Drabblecast history. I'm caught up on 290 and can't remember better. Let us Praise Awesome Dinosaurs maybe.
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Re: Drabblecast 289 – The Cold Equations

Postby tbaker2500 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:27 pm

Beth Peters wrote:
tbaker2500 wrote:I fast forwarded most of the story, and didn't really miss anything besides extra pathos.


Well, aside from maybe the best dramatic performance in Drabblecast history. I'm caught up on 290 and can't remember better. Let us Praise Awesome Dinosaurs maybe.


Yes, but I would have been crying so hard I wouldn't have heard it anyway. :cry:
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