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Author Topic: EP143: Flaming Marshmallow and Other Deaths  (Read 27775 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: February 01, 2008, 08:10:34 AM »

EP143: Flaming Marshmallow and Other Deaths

By Camille Alexa.
Read by Dani Cutler (of Truth Seekers and The Audio Addicts).
 Will appear in Machine of Death (TBA).

I look at the calendar hanging on the wall above my bed. I reach up, lift it off its nail with one hand and snuggle back under the covers, taking the calendar with me and running a finger over all the red Xs marked over all the days leading up to this one. It’s a little cold out, and the last thing in the universe I want to do is catch an effing cold the week of my birthday, so I snuggle down into the warmth of my flannel sheets even more. I know there’s going to be parties this weekend, and I’m going to want to go.

This is what I’ve been waiting for all these months. All these years, I guess, though before my friends started getting theirs, it didn’t seem like such a big deal. We were all No-Knows then.

Tomorrow, I’m finally going to feel like I belong.

Tomorrow, I’m going to find out how I die.


Rated PG. Contains allusions to profanity and some sexual implication.


Referenced Sites:
Metamor City Podcast



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Darwinist
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2008, 10:50:50 AM »

I liked this story.  The main idea of knowing your cause of death was interesting.  I have a 16 y/o so I could really relate to the whole father/daughter relationship dynamic and I thought that was well done, especially the part at the end where the dad was thrilled and the daughter was devastated.  Another good light sci-fi story for my easy listening pleasure.     
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2008, 12:24:50 PM »

I've definitely enjoyed this new wave of lighter SF and this week was no exception.  I thought the relationship between the daughter and father was touching, and I thought it was hilarious and bizarre to see the father celebrating over his daughter's form of death.  I'll probably listen to it again relatively soon. 

I love the idea of SF for young adults.  I haven't read Westerfield's Uglies series, but I was under the impression it was SF (not fantasy) the same way I'd consider Lois Lowry's the Giver SF.  I'm hoping Cory Doctorow's new book puts a collective jolt into kids reading SF.  I've heard really good things about Little Brother.

Question: do kids really say "effing" or "what the ef?"  Not too many high schoolers I know do, they usually just say it.  I was okay with it once but when it happened three times, I thought it was funny.  Still, that's a pretty minor complaint Smiley
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Russell Nash
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2008, 02:19:53 PM »

I liked this one.  I found it very believable that the kids would break into groups according to cause of death.

Since I see it coming a mile away, I put up a thread asking if you would want to know the details of your death.
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colt
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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2008, 02:56:43 PM »

FMaOD was wonderful, despite my best efforts to ruin my listening experience.  This morning, I was catching up on some Escape Pod episodes from previous weeks and so my listening to Flaming Marshmellow came right on the heels of EP142 Artifice and Intelligence.  Despite Dani Cutler's excellent characterization and reading energy, I found myself daydreaming and blending the two stories together.  The AaI idea that an artifical intelligence could master sciences which no human could understand melted into the death prediction concept from FMaOD.  I got caught up in imagining how AaI's Saraswati might be quietly entertaining herself by apply some superhuman temporal science to provide her pet humans with accurate death predictions.  Thankfully, I have a very long drive to work, so after I was done daydreaming, I hit rewind and got to hear FMaOD in all its stand-alone glory. 
Thanks as always!
Peace, Colt
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bolddeceiver
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2008, 04:14:32 PM »

Great story, and while I was initially worried at the reading, I settled down into it as soon as I realized that she was supposed to be annoying.

Although hearing this and thinking of MoD again left me kicking myself, because of course I thought of ten story ideas better than the crap I submitted to the contest last winter. >_<
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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2008, 04:38:22 PM »

Excellent episode, Steve and Dani and of course, Camille.

This was a perfect marriage of story and reader. Commute? What commute? I didn't so much drive to work as I 'storied' there. Fun stuff.

I, too, was touched by the relationship between father and daughter. After the bizarreness of the high school death cliques, the father provided a strong tie to the world I could relate to. The family of protesters was handled really well, making the point without taking over the story.

Suicides as quiet kids in black. lol So many interesting ideas in such a short story. Great writing.

Love me some EP!
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2008, 08:43:25 PM »

Liked the story.  The notion of the cliques was simply brilliant.

And where does she sit at lunchtime tomorrow?


(personally hoping mine is "heat death of the universe" Grin which I actually first misheard the girl's as.)
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2008, 04:21:47 PM »

Teenagers vs. causality. Which will win?  Grin
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CGFxColONeill
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2008, 04:45:02 PM »

interesting story
I could not relate personally to the whole HS thing cause I was home schooled for my whole life but sounds like some of the people that I work with lol
I did not really see the sci fi connection in the story
the only option for sci fi in the story was the machine and that was not really even a plausible one ( sci fi does not have to be plausible to be good but something so far out as that would not be possible as far as I can tell from intro to physics in college, Heisenberg,)
so ya well written story but not really sci fi to me
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2008, 05:14:26 PM »

I did not really see the sci fi connection in the story
the only option for sci fi in the story was the machine and that was not really even a plausible one ( sci fi does not have to be plausible to be good but something so far out as that would not be possible as far as I can tell from intro to physics in college, Heisenberg,)
so ya well written story but not really sci fi to me

It's actually similar to the story "Lifeline" by Robert A. Heinlein, which is generally considered sci-fi ... that story was about a machine that could read the exact moment that a person would die (though not the cause of death.)
« Last Edit: February 02, 2008, 05:16:02 PM by stePH » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2008, 06:31:45 PM »

I think that this is one of my favorite EP stories.

I thought that the characterization of the girl and the cliques was dead on.  As one example of many, I particularly liked how she tried to sound grown-up by constantly saying "effing" and "freaking," and yet was not so grown up that she could get by without euphemisms.

I also *really* liked that the story didn't give us too much background information - sf often suffers from "explanation-itis," where the author has the characters  explain the background for every development in the story.  But most people just live in the world without giving a lot of thought to its scientific/social/cultural underpinnings, and I don't see that changing in the future.  For whatever reason, everyone in this future can know their MoD - and they make decisions based on that fact, but don't really give much thought to how this came about - because that's not really important to how they live their everyday life.  I found that this made the story much more engaging.

(My personal belief is that they live in the "Chiron Beta Prime" universe, where their robot overlords...I mean protectors...select the manner of death.  YMMV.)
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goatkeeper
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2008, 06:36:03 PM »

Oh my god, seriously,that story was like, so eff'ing awesome, I could die.
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CGFxColONeill
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2008, 11:29:17 PM »

I did not really see the sci fi connection in the story
the only option for sci fi in the story was the machine and that was not really even a plausible one ( sci fi does not have to be plausible to be good but something so far out as that would not be possible as far as I can tell from intro to physics in college, Heisenberg,)
so ya well written story but not really sci fi to me

It's actually similar to the story "Lifeline" by Robert A. Heinlein, which is generally considered sci-fi ... that story was about a machine that could read the exact moment that a person would die (though not the cause of death.)
I have not read that one yet but ya that does not change it in my opinion 
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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2008, 03:16:58 AM »

It was a "what would the effect of" story - Speculative Fiction, not really Science Fiction.  Certainly a far cry from hard SF.

But that's not a bad thing.  Sure, the device operated, for all intents and purposes, by magic.  That doesn't change that the story took that one element and tried to envision how it would change the world.  And it used that as a mirror for our world in general.  That's classic SF right there.  And it was a good, fun story.  I really liked the father/daughter dynamic as well, showing very clearly how both of them are concerned about very, very different things.

The moral of the story: Even if you could show them the future, teenagers are only concerned with the now.
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High 5
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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2008, 12:28:58 PM »

Oh my god, seriously,that story was like, so eff'ing awesome, I could die.

Ah, but you will...you will. [ insert hollow laughter here ]
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2008, 01:58:28 PM »

Parents usually tell their kids, "If all your friends jumped off a cliff..."

However, I didn't hear a "cliff-jumper" clique.  Maybe they sat at the Suicide table.
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2008, 02:03:38 PM »

Loved it. The idea that teens would actually want to know their cause of (eventual) death and turn it into a status symbol is totally believable. After all, you need to have lived a little to be scared of death...

The reading was great too. I was actually irritated by the voice acting, untill I realised that it was part of the story. And then it really sounded like an average teen: whiny, self centered but also capable of truly profound emotion.

The only slight gripe I have is with the actual predicted cause of death: what on earth is 'millenium space atrofy' Huh? I mean, I get what it meant in the context of the story, but what is it?

And my final comment: I like the lighter SF (especially when it's done right, like this story), but I'm kinda yearning for some more gritty stuff as well. Any chance some of that coming up soon?
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Czhorat
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2008, 03:11:29 PM »

I very much liked it. It felt plausible in a very lighthearted "if this happens" kind of way. The relationship between father and daughter shifted, but not so abruptly or dramatically as to give it a "movie of the week" feel, and even the use of things like "effing" to avoid actual profanity worked for me. Had the narrator used the actual word it would have given her voice a much harder edge that I don't think would have fit the story.

Has anyone read this March's F&SF yet? There's a story called "Exit Strategy" by K.D. Wentworth that touched on some of the same ideas of teenage mortality and family relationships. It makes an interesting companion piece to this one.

And to answer ColONeil
I did not really see the sci fi connection in the story
the only option for sci fi in the story was the machine and that was not really even a plausible one ( sci fi does not have to be plausible to be good but something so far out as that would not be possible as far as I can tell from intro to physics in college, Heisenberg,)
so ya well written story but not really sci fi to me

I hear where you're coming from, but I think we've called a truce on the SF/NotSF debate. The official EscapePod definition is that Science Fiction is whatever Steve Eley says that it is. Otherwise we get into a semantics debate that's even less productive than discussing theology, science, politics, or criminal justice with Mr. Tweedy.

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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2008, 04:09:35 PM »

That was a good fun story. Most of all i loved that we never found out what "Death by Flaming Marshmallow" actually involved. Something to let our twisted imaginations run wild.

I have to admit, i had my doubts about the whole "Machine of Death" concept when i first heard of the contest a year or so ago and wondered if it would produce any good stories. But after hearing that, i'll definitely be checking it out.
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