Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

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Algernon Sydney is Dead
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Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by Algernon Sydney is Dead » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:33 am

Feature: Day MIllion by Frederik Pohl
Drabble: Tar Pit: A Love Story by Rachael K. Jones
Genres: Romance Sci-Fi

Image

Monday, February 10th, 2014
On this day I want to tell you about, which will be about a thousand years from now, there were a boy, a girl, and a love story.

Episode Art: CRNsurf
Read by: Mike Boris

Twabble: “ He said he loved me and he planted Flowers in my name.
So, I kissed him until his toes curled. I'd loathed old Mrs. Flowers. ” by Algernon Sydney is Dead

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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by StalinSays » Fri Feb 14, 2014 3:34 am

The 1970 publish date is apparent in some of the language used, but I must say I enjoyed this story. And I wouldn't call it retro-futuristic; much of the prognosticating in Day Million feels like a viable scientific future, even 44 years later.

Also, CRNsurf, amazing covers. Check the two DARPs they created for us: http://www.drabblecast.org/tag/artist-crnsurf/
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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by Teh Glitch » Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:19 pm

The story for me falls apart when the narrator refers to the female character as male because she has male DNA. That's the outdated thinking the story seeks to evoke in the reader so the narrator can point it out.
However given my experience with the weirder parts of the Internet I feel more insulted by the notion that someone who's thinking is outdated is trying to show me my thinking is outdated.
The 1970's publishing date explains everything. I mistook it for a story written last year by someone kinda naive.
Yeah I guess this story still holds up for anyone who hasn't spent a lot of time in the darker regions of the Internet but this may be the last generation where this story won't get at reaction more like
"Did people actually talk like that?" only in, you know, net speak.

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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by Varda » Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:41 pm

I had a very similar reaction as Teh Glitch in finding this story dated and pretty laughable by current scientific standards. I also found the story more than a little sexist - maybe I could call it "hypermasculine" if I wanted to be a bit more generous. However you want to see it, I can say it's been a really long time since I read anything that was quite this "male gaze-y", but I guess we can usually expect classic SF to deliver a bit of that.

The idea that there's a right or wrong way to "be" female or male, and that you'd assign gender based on embryos that excel at whatever it means to do your gender right, is outdated at best and insulting at worst. I'm glad that we're finally reaching the end of the era where we see gender or even biological sex as binary, since it erases the fact that XY females *already* exist, and always have, in a completely natural sense (and the story got this much right: interestingly, people with this particular condition do indeed present as hyper-feminine. It's a common chromosomal condition often found in female supermodels).

It was really hard to overlook these flaws, but I'll grant that it was creative, and interesting as a reminder of how far we've come both scientifically and socially since it was written.
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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by strawman » Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:54 pm

If diversity per se is as valuable as we are taught, perhaps POV's in place and time have as much claim to the standards of Diversity as race and gender issues. We may be right or wrong - and history teaches that we are wrong more than we think - so we will soon enough be the ones who are thought naive.

Boy, was I naive to think the Superbowl would be close! Boy, was I naive to divert 20% of GDP to abate Global Warming (or not, depending!) Every age always thinks it has advanced more than it has, and I believe that may account for the hubristic tone that seems in retrospect so naive.
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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by Varda » Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:42 am

I think there's something to be said for preserving historical POV's - "Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it" and all of that. But you also have to allow for personal variations in the ability to tolerate offensive elements because of individual background and experiences.

For example, parts of this story felt to me like the literary equivalent of a strange guy raking his eyes up and down my body like he owns the place. You are a person of tremendous empathy, so even though you're not a woman, I know that you'll read that metaphor and imagine what it might feel like, even if it hasn't happened to you. But when I use the metaphor, I speak from firsthand experience of all the times in my life some random guy has done just that. So there's going to be an asymmetry between the way sexist elements like the ones in this story impact me vs. you.

Ain't nothing wrong with that - it just means that the historical value of any given POV may vary from person to person. (I don't recall if I've shared this link here already, but I actually wrote about the whole problem of offensive elements in classic lit on my blog recently, if you're interested in my further thoughts on the topic).
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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by strawman » Sat Feb 15, 2014 3:01 pm

I haven't yet listened to the episode. Maybe it's got crap in it.
I only want to say that, being human, we all have crap in us. But the modern quest for power seems, to this crappy soul, to be a contest to see who can establish their particular crap as officially recognized. This results, for example, in feminists fighting betwixt themselves over whether prostitution and pornography are a) degrading or b) empowering. Crap, or filet mignon?

Cognitive dissonance, right? But now it seems the rule is "chacun à son goût". It's gauche to express disgust when folks are enjoying their crap frappe.

Call me the devil's advocate here, but I think Amos n Andy is filet mignon; but it's been censored by folks who thought it was crap, even as they chowed down on In Living Color. Some folks even got Huck Finn removed from libraries.

Having said that, I will now listen to the episode and have something to say that actually belongs here. :oops:
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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by Varda » Sat Feb 15, 2014 3:55 pm

I think the point I was trying to make in my blog post was that sometimes it can be both filet mignon *and* crap, and for both of those things to be true without it just being a matter of opinion. The dish was meant to be steak, but the chef additionally served some things that are especially hurtful toward a whole group of people -- such as Lovecraft's spectacular, remarkable racism. It doesn't diminish the awesomeness that is Lovecraft, but it does mean that we need to give our friends who already have had their fill of racism a break when they can't stomach any more. It's about having compassion, even in situations where we don't "see it" on our own plates.

As for feminism and porn, this is a tangent, but I think it's helpful to keep in mind that any given group of people is not homogeneous. I would say that feminists are united by the belief that women are people, too. Opinions may vary about what that means in practice. Same as the variation you get in any movement or political viewpoint or religious system. Is porn empowering or objectifying? Is baptism absolutely necessary for Christian salvation, or is it symbolic and entirely optional? Contradictory viewpoints can exist side-by-side in a movement otherwise unified around a core belief.
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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by strawman » Sat Feb 15, 2014 7:48 pm

My main offendedness take-away is Pohl's presumptuousness making me, the reader, one of his characters, and then writing a part for me.
As you say, Varda, no group is homogenous. Especially Readers.
But the story certainly has merit as a challenge to writers who may wonder whether they might be able to get away with telling people how they are reacting to what they just read.
This aspect is so much a form of mental masturbation that it almost becomes appropriate that Pohl should include some features of porn-type fantasy. One day, he seems to say, we Neanderthals will evolve to the point where we find his pseudo-fantasy as arousing as Don and Dora do. And that's what the story is about.

Just as an aside, maybe the disconnect between sex and reproduction is related to the subsequent confusion about the purpose and meaning of genders, and the de-person-alization of the other sex. The main thing becomes "what things" generate your urges. Searching for these "things", we find "things".
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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by Varda » Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:01 pm

strawman wrote:My main offendedness take-away is Pohl's presumptuousness making me, the reader, one of his characters, and then writing a part for me.
As you say, Varda, no group is homogenous. Especially Readers.
But the story certainly has merit as a challenge to writers who may wonder whether they might be able to get away with telling people how they are reacting to what they just read.
This aspect is so much a form of mental masturbation that it almost becomes appropriate that Pohl should include some features of porn-type fantasy. One day, he seems to say, we Neanderthals will evolve to the point where we find his pseudo-fantasy as arousing as Don and Dora do. And that's what the story is about.
That's particularly well-put, Strawman! I think you've hit the nail on the head. The decision to make this story 2nd person makes the alienating elements particularly grating. Not only are we all forced to assume an identity chosen for us by the author, but we're also told what our anticipated reactions should be, and then patted on the head and lectured at for those predetermined reactions.

I wonder if people liked this story better when it was first written, or if there were similar reactions?

Funny thing, thanks to your astute observations, I feel more able to "eat around the crap" metaphorically, and offer some further thoughts on the story beyond its creepy pseudo-pornographic treatment of women. The central question of the story seems to be what the nature of love might be in a distant future where biology does much less of the driving in our lives. What is love, when decoupled from the physical nature of our bodies?

I'm of the opinion that love is most meaningful as action. I think it's more loving to treat people in ways that are loving than it is to feel the feels, and that love as action always trumps love as feeling. So while I agree with Pohl's conclusion that love would continue to exist without biological incentives, I disagree that that's necessarily a futuristic view of love, and one that would surprise us Neanderthals in Day Seven Thousand.
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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by strawman » Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:49 pm

There is no love, only proofs of love.
(Attribution disputed - Pierre Reverdy)
(Damn right, attribution disputed - Jean Cocteau)
(Sigh - Jesus of Nazareth)
Never judge anyone until you have biopsied their brain.

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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by Algernon Sydney is Dead » Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:52 am

I loved everything about this episode but the story.

Varda's drabble was excellent and the retro, classic cover art was just right.

This story was tedious to me and I fell asleep twice while listening. To me, it proves that not even the "greats" can bog down a story with so much "tell" and so little "show".
There also seemed to be little point rather than attempts to push the buttons of mythical 1950's sensibilities (as mythologized in 1966). I imagine it was just as lame then, but maybe a certain combination of drugs made it "pop"?

"Urge to rape" and "Instinct to submit"? I'm about as anti-femiNazi as you can (legally) get, and that kind if statement/thinking offends me. What men and women want from each other is so much more (and not at all the same in each case), and that's been known for as long as we have records. That this story pretended to write about advancements in human relations, while *showing* little knowledge of the current state (both now and at the time of the original publishing), just further served to kill any credibility or interest.

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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by strawman » Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:41 am

Algernon Sydney is Dead wrote: "Urge to rape" and "Instinct to submit"? I'm about as anti-femiNazi as you can (legally) get, and that kind if statement/thinking offends me. What men and women want from each other is so much more (and not at all the same in each case), and that's been known for as long as we have records.
While I refrain from the anti-femiNazi bandwagon

(yes, there is one, but it's your fault... and you know who you are),

I second ASID on this. "Urge to Rape" and "Instinct to Submit" are both revelatory of the AUTHOR'S thinking, and he apparently assumes his readers are sympathetic. The more I think about these phrases, the more I feel like he is trying to put the thought in my head.

Editorial Note: The sixties truly were a self-absorbed, solipsistic decade. If the only measure is pleasure, the decade was great. But self-absorption produces bad consequences; everything and everyone becomes an object...something whose purpose is to get me what I want. Practiced over a long period of time, this turns us into the Matrix - batteries not included.
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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by Algernon Sydney is Dead » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:04 pm

Varda wrote:Not only are we all forced to assume an identity chosen for us by the author, but we're also told what our anticipated reactions should be, and then patted on the head and lectured at for those predetermined reactions.
Don't you see?! That's exactly what The Man did, man! How's it feel when you're under the establishment? Stop being so oppressive! (And don't trust anyone over 30.)

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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by Varda » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:47 pm

Algernon Sydney is Dead wrote:I loved everything about this episode but the story.
"Urge to rape" and "Instinct to submit"? I'm about as anti-femiNazi as you can (legally) get, and that kind if statement/thinking offends me.
strawman wrote:I second ASID on this. "Urge to Rape" and "Instinct to Submit" are both revelatory of the AUTHOR'S thinking, and he apparently assumes his readers are sympathetic. The more I think about these phrases, the more I feel like he is trying to put the thought in my head.
Hooooooly crap, YES! And that was something like the 4th sentence. I made a sadface. :(

Glad you liked the drabble, though! If we all put on our Freudian goggles, you could say the drabble provides a nice counterpoint to the story, being about a vengeful, devouring hole. (not what I intended when I wrote it, but Freudian goggles make everything more fun!)
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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by Algernon Sydney is Dead » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:21 pm

Varda wrote:... a vengeful, devouring hole. (not what I intended when I wrote it, but Freudian goggles make everything more fun!)
And I thought I was exercising great restraint by not going there (yes that's a triple entendre). But now that we have... Aren't they all? Aren't they all. :twisted:

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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by Varda » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:38 pm

Algernon Sydney is Dead wrote:
Varda wrote:... a vengeful, devouring hole. (not what I intended when I wrote it, but Freudian goggles make everything more fun!)
And I thought I was exercising great restraint by not going there (yes that's a triple entendre). But now that we have... Aren't they all? Aren't they all. :twisted:
If we'd just let it have its tree, we wouldn't be in this tarry mess!

Move along, gentle apatosaurus, move along...

(Why does autocorrect want to make that into "brontosaurus" :lol: )
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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by hepworth » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:27 pm

Algernon Sydney is Dead wrote:so much "tell" and so little "show".
Absolutely. Even if I overlook the assumptions that the author makes about my reactions. Even if I overlook the not-at-all-shocking shock-inducers. Even if I overlook the heavy sexism throughout... all of which is very difficult to do, I keep thinking, "OK, OK, but just tell me the goddamn story!"

This was all establishing exposition, and nothing of any consequence happened. I would have liked to discover some of these things about the characters through watching their interactions, instead of just being told everything.
[u]Day Million[/u] wrote:It is people who make stories, not the circumstances they find themselves in, and you want to hear about these two people.
Precisely, so what ya got? ...Nothing, I guess. But they sure look weird.

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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by Varda » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:35 pm

Welcome to the forums, Hepworth! And you'll get no argument from me - I fully agree there was story missing in the story. There was a decidedly complete lack of any kind of plot other than, "Hey, here's a description of some characters that will proceed to do not much at all except go about their business!"

This kind of thing works okay for flash fiction (although I find preachiness nauseating even in small doses), but beyond the 1,000-word point, I get impatient. In fact, thanks to the Drabblecast's insidious influence on my tender brain, I've come to measure stories against the best Drabbles our fine community has produced. If an author can't do marginally better in 2,000+ words than a Drabble author can do in 100, there's a problem. (but then again, I do think we write some pretty mean drabbles 'round here!)
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Re: Drabblecast 312 – Day Million

Post by tbaker2500 » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:29 am

My main offendedness take-away is Pohl's presumptuousness making me, the reader, one of his characters, and then writing a part for me.
Well put! I'm gunna steal this for some other stories.
The dish was meant to be steak, but the chef additionally served some things that are especially hurtful toward a whole group of people -- such as Lovecraft's spectacular, remarkable racism. It doesn't diminish the awesomeness that is Lovecraft, but it does mean that we need to give our friends who already have had their fill of racism a break when they can't stomach any more.
That last sentence is quite profound. What's it doing around here?? :D
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