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Author Topic: EP165: Those Eyes  (Read 16870 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: July 04, 2008, 12:22:52 PM »

EP165: Those Eyes

By David Brin.
Read by Stephen and Anna Eley.

“…So you want to talk about flying saucers? I was afraid of that.

“This happens every damn time I’m blackmailed into babysitting you insomniacs, while Talkback Larry escapes to Bimini for a badly needed rest. I’m supposed to field call-in questions about astronomy and outer space for two weeks. You know, black holes and comets? But it seems we always have to spend the first night wrangling over puta UFOs.

“…Now, don’t get excited, sir…. Yeah, I’m just a typical ivory tower scientist, out to repress any trace of unconventional thought. Whatever you say, buddy.”


Rated PG. Contains some sexual situations and scattered profanity in both English and Spanish.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Randomtime
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2008, 01:21:57 PM »

Great EP - Loved the reading (Although the Alien voice was a little unclear). Nice angle and very thought provoking, more of these stories plz.
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Talia
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2008, 06:45:44 PM »

A fun listen, I enjoyed the format. I have to wonder that the "aliens" didn't see this particular trend coming, though, particularly if they'd been watching the human race from the start..
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deflective
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2008, 07:21:42 PM »

i'm liking this philosophy, it's kinda like skepticism lite. you can keep your superstitions but must use critical thinking in daily life to keep the shadows at bay.

btw, is a clicker used to mark cut points? there's a repeated half sentence with a click-clack around minute 27.

I have to wonder that the "aliens" didn't see this particular trend coming, though, particularly if they'd been watching the human race from the start..

it sounded like they created humans, or at least believe they did. in a way, humans are kinda like artificial intelligence run amok for the fear mongers. we were granted autonomy to serve their ends but eventually we rose up, casting them aside with our greater strength and analytical thinking.
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Void Munashii
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« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2008, 02:37:23 AM »

  I was finding this story to be kind of dull at first, but it really grew on me by the end. The idea that UFO sighting are actually fairie-folk messing with people was really neat. I liked the story going back and forth between the radio host (I love talk radio, and used to listen to Art Bell every night) and the "alien".

  Without the revelation at the end about the fairies and what led to their demise, I think this story would have fallen flat for me, but the ending was unique enough to me to make what would otherwise have been a basic "meh" into a good story.

  As usual when voice effects are used, the "alien" was a little hard to understand, but not to the point that I did not know what was going on. The read itself was quite good.

  The only real question I am left with is the reference to taking the infants to a southern island; this seemed like it was meant to be a reference to something I should get. If this is the case, then  it wen completely over my head, and I would be grateful if someone would explain it to me (or link to an explanation)

btw, is a clicker used to mark cut points? there's a repeated half sentence with a click-clack around minute 27.

  That is what my guess was. My wife and I noticed it too, and wondered about it. I think I've heard this on one other occasion too, but that may have been on PP or PC... or maybe Nocturnal.
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sirana
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2008, 03:26:02 AM »

It reminded me of this comic.
Other than that an average story. Not bad and certainly based on an interesting idea, but nothing that deeply engaged me.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2008, 03:55:49 AM by sirana » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2008, 08:27:54 AM »

Cool story!  Loved the back-and-forth with the alien and the talk show host.  Being skeptic minded, I loved the talk show host rants.   That's the way I feel every time I see some buffoon on TV blathering about the Phoenix lights or the latest Chinese lantern UFO sightings.   Anyway, great story IMO.

Thought the outro was interesting, also.  I can totally relate to Steve there.  I used to believe in all kinds of stuff and now have gone the opposite way.   Great show this week.
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For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.    -  Carl Sagan
coyote247
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2008, 08:36:05 AM »

A radio host with iron in his voice against evil fairies. Awesome.
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Talia
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2008, 08:51:22 PM »

A radio host with iron in his voice against evil fairies. Awesome.


Thats the thing of it. Were they really so evil? I'm not sure. Deluded, perhaps. incapable of seeing what was going on. However the onset of rationalism was  threat to their very existance, so who could blame them.

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bolddeceiver
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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2008, 11:22:18 PM »

Well, the post I was writing in my head all through this mostly got said by the scientist on the radio show, but I'll summarize:

A race of aliens so capricious as these really are no better than the gods of old.  If a civilization is so self-important and petty and intentionally inscrutable as these jerks, I want nothing to do with them.

The fact that, in this story, they exist brings up another train of thought I've had on and off.

Let's imagine that God (or gods or fairies or whatev) really does exist, and is as petty and mean-spirited and wrathful and narrow-minded as many practitioners of the world's religions seem to think.  In that case, are the people who pay obesiance to that force any better than a prison guard in Nazi Germany who "follows orders?"  I'd like to think that, in that situation, I would have the cojones to give up the chance at eternal reward to stand up for the same humanistic morals that I subscribe to in His absence.  (For an interesting story that addresses this very thought, check out "Hell is the Absence of God" by Ted Chiang, anthologised in Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, Kelly & Kessel, ed.)
« Last Edit: July 05, 2008, 11:59:13 PM by bolddeceiver » Logged
coyote247
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2008, 08:31:41 AM »

A radio host with iron in his voice against evil fairies. Awesome.


Thats the thing of it. Were they really so evil? I'm not sure. Deluded, perhaps. incapable of seeing what was going on. However the onset of rationalism was  threat to their very existance, so who could blame them.




Well I'm of the Discworld school of "fairies are bad" myself, but in general I would classify anyone who views humanity as subservient and not worthy of making our own decisions about ourselves as evil, with the anti-rationalism and anti-humanism just added on poison cherries to the evil sundae.

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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2008, 09:38:59 AM »

In reference to the outro, I'm a sceptical agnostic atheist, because no other position seems to make sense to me.

Anyway, the story: About halfway through, when the "aliens" were saying something like "Why would we give them lenses when mystery is so much more important?", I was quite impressed. One of my big bugbears in science fiction is aliens that have entirely human thought processes and value systems. To quote Gen. Beaufort Early in Larry Niven's Known Space stories: "The thing about aliens, son, is that they're alien".

So seeing aliens that didn't think like humans was refreshing. And then they turned out to be pixies. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I agree with Void about the children on the island - is that a reference we were supposed to get? And the revelation that the pixies "created" humans as some kind of experiment was an interesting one; I only wonder if that means that all of life (as we understand it) was created by them, which I suppose leads into an ID debate.

I don't think it's fair to describe pixies as "evil" (that would be measuring their cloth with our yardstick) but, traditionally, their goals have never been very friendly to humans. When they took notice of humans, we were treated as disposable pawns in their games, at best. If wasps have a coherent moral system, they may well see humans as being evil (and if they have a coherent moral system, then we arguably are), but... well, I don't know.
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« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2008, 11:10:11 AM »

I agree with most listeners here: great story, with some nice thought provoking elements.

Also great performance by Steve and Anna, although at the start I had some trouble listening to the alien voice. Maybe we're just not used to listening to alien voices...

I think the aliens put that click in there too. And then they repeated the last sentence that was said... That sentence must really be the MOST important sentence in the whole story. Well, according to the aliens. And they love mysteries. So put your lenses away, stop focussing on the clicks and feel the mystery Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2008, 08:25:23 AM »

I have a question... it is alluded to in the story that these "aliens" created us... If this is true, then what believed in them before we did?  Huh

All in all, a great story, though. Reminds me a little of American Gods.
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wintermute
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« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2008, 08:48:25 AM »

I have a question... it is alluded to in the story that these "aliens" created us... If this is true, then what believed in them before we did?  Huh
Well, maybe it was enough that nothing disbelieved in them...
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« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2008, 08:54:04 AM »

Quote
Well, maybe it was enough that nothing disbelieved in them...
Good point...
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« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2008, 09:00:55 AM »

I like Brin alot.  Good story and a great reading of it.  The central conceit of the story is fairly well used, and perhaps overused, but Brin as usual makes it fresh and interesting.  The juxtaposition between the radio host and the 'aliens' was a good way of framing the plot.  Glad to see that even a big name like Brin wants to get the Escapepod treatment!
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bolddeceiver
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« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2008, 10:40:53 AM »

I have a question... it is alluded to in the story that these "aliens" created us... If this is true, then what believed in them before we did?  Huh

Remember, they only believe that they created us; a race so clearly uninterested in (our idea of) rationality might or might not have their own history straight.  Maybe we created them...
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« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2008, 10:58:15 AM »

Let's imagine that God (or gods or fairies or whatev) really does exist, and is as petty and mean-spirited and wrathful and narrow-minded as many practitioners of the world's religions seem to think.  In that case, are the people who pay obesiance to that force any better than a prison guard in Nazi Germany who "follows orders?"  I'd like to think that, in that situation, I would have the cojones to give up the chance at eternal reward to stand up for the same humanistic morals that I subscribe to in His absence.  (For an interesting story that addresses this very thought, check out "Hell is the Absence of God" by Ted Chiang, anthologised in Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, Kelly & Kessel, ed.)

Honestly, I felt the story was just as much about this as it was about aliens.  But I think that's supposing quite a bit about the characteristics God (or aliens or whatever) and I think your wonderful sentiment fits pretty much in line with "Greater love has no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friend."

Or as Huckleberry Finn said: "All right then, I'll go to hell."

I wasn't really into the story until the twist, which I thought was pretty interesting.  There was stuff about it I liked and stuff about it I didn't.  Mostly that the DJ felt a lot like the skeptic from Steve's outro who told everyone else how to believe.  And I had a hard time believing that alien cared that much about what one guy playing to insomniacs said.  (Although, for some reason, I buy elves caring.)

How is that Kelly/Kessel anthology, BTW?  I checked out their "Rewired: Post-Cyberpunk" but haven't had a chance to read it yet.
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wintermute
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« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2008, 11:17:16 AM »

There was stuff about it I liked and stuff about it I didn't.  Mostly that the DJ felt a lot like the skeptic from Steve's outro who told everyone else how to believe.
I think that, if people phone you up and ask for your opinion on certain topics, it's OK to explain why you believe as you do.
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