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Author Topic: EP170: Pervert  (Read 14457 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: August 08, 2008, 03:35:47 PM »

EP170: Pervert

By Charles Coleman Finlay.
Read by Stephen Eley.
First appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 2004.

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When the bus reaches the corner, they climb onboard, taking seats on their side and evening out the ride so it doesn’t feel so much like we’ll tip over. We rattle along past road construction, the men working behind screens that are consecrated by the priests each morning as part of the men’s quarter, and resanctified to the women at quitting time. The sun already pelts down mercilessly and they will have to leave off working soon.

We enter the government quarter and arrive at the Children’s Center, a long concrete brick of a building with windows shielded from the sun by an open grid of deep squares made of the same material. The morning light turns it into a chessboard of glaring white and dark shadow. I don’t work with the children, who are on the lower floors and the sheltered playground of the courtyard, but toil away with records on the upper floors. Unlike Jamin or Zel, I am permitted by the job to work alongside women, but only because I completed my theological studies and am a candidate for the priesthood. My superiors do not know of the taint on my soul. Do not know yet, I should say, and when they discover it I will never be ordained or promoted.


Rated R. Contains explicit sexual activity.



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Noira
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« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2008, 10:55:45 PM »

 Embarrassed Hate this to be my first post, and I'm not familiar with the authors other works, but.. That had the feel of a high school,  or freshman college, writing assignment. I stuck through it, thinking, okay there will be a twist ending... 
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ChiliFan
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« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2008, 11:57:42 PM »

I liked this story. I understood some of it early on or in the middle, but it kept me guessing right up until the end, which is what any good story should do!
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2008, 09:30:19 AM »

Didn't think much of this one.  It was more worldbuilding than story.  And I couldn't help feeling that this whole "homo is the norm, hetero is deviant" has been done to death already, although I can't think of any examples offhand other than Haldeman's The Forever War.
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alllie
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2008, 10:16:49 AM »

A sad story. I felt sorry for the pervert and for the man whose dog kept going into the women's section. For a while I thought it was a sexually segregated human society that had developed such taboos.  Then at the end I saw it had to be a completely different world with a different biology, with people more like some amphibians than humans, people with no internal fertilization. In such a society it would be a perversion for a man to be attracted to a woman, if external fertilization without contact between male and female was the natural thing.

On our planet, even with external fertilization, at least among vertebrates, males and females do tend to associate, at least briefly during fertilization, each male trying to make sure his sperm is closest to the released eggs. Maybe that was the taboo, that men and women would naturally tend to associate during fertilization but society had developed to avoid it. The tendency had to be there or there wouldn't be all the taboos and punishment and veiling. I liked how men were compelled to veil as well as women.

But still, an interesting story.
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2008, 10:40:09 AM »

A sad story. I felt sorry for the pervert and for the man whose dog kept going into the women's section. For a while I thought it was a sexually segregated human society that had developed such taboos.  Then at the end I saw it had to be a completely different world with a different biology, with people more like some amphibians than humans, people with no internal fertilization. In such a society it would be a perversion for a man to be attracted to a woman, if external fertilization without contact between male and female was the natural thing.

I didn't see it that way.  I got the impression that a sexually segregated human society was exactly what it was, and that "aquasexuals" were the ones selected for breeding.

On further reflection, even the worldbuilding was weak; figure in the lack of a storyline and the "Geek Dad Outro", and this episode's a solid loser for me.
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alllie
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« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2008, 02:52:50 PM »

  I got the impression that a sexually segregated human society was exactly what it was, and that "aquasexuals" were the ones selected for breeding.

There is a reference to “Their eggs float in tiny gelatinous clumps on the surface of the pool”  as well as to “the black sea and the pale white sky.”  I suppose occasionally the sky on earth might look white or the sea black but not at the same time. So it is probably another planet. More importantly human eggs don’t come in “tiny gelatinous clumps” and they can't be left in water, floating like frog eggs waiting to be fertilized.

So it can’t be earth.  At least in my opinion.
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Noira
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« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2008, 03:03:34 PM »

There was reference to the beast in the fields, and if it's a highly advanced humanity, why couldn't there be a way of depositing the females eggs in a gelatinous mass?
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stePH
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Hipparch
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2008, 04:11:21 PM »

  I got the impression that a sexually segregated human society was exactly what it was, and that "aquasexuals" were the ones selected for breeding.

There is a reference to “Their eggs float in tiny gelatinous clumps on the surface of the pool”  as well as to “the black sea and the pale white sky.”  I suppose occasionally the sky on earth might look white or the sea black but not at the same time. So it is probably another planet. More importantly human eggs don’t come in “tiny gelatinous clumps” and they can't be left in water, floating like frog eggs waiting to be fertilized.

So it can’t be earth.  At least in my opinion.


Doesn't have to be Earth, but I'm pretty sure these people are human or at least started out that way ... for one thing, the quoted phrases of their "scriptures" are all from the Christian Bible.  (Apparently they've expunged or rewritten the bits that condemn homosexuality, in order to endorse it instead.)
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Schreiber
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« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2008, 05:58:52 PM »

Didn't think much of this one.  It was more worldbuilding than story.  And I couldn't help feeling that this whole "homo is the norm, hetero is deviant" has been done to death already, although I can't think of any examples offhand other than Haldeman's The Forever War.

It's not a perfect match, but there was an episode of Star Trek TNG that dealt with very similar themes.  And I agree, the conceit felt a little tired.

The story really only has two directions to go, thematically.  Either it's a warning about some strange future in which heterosexual desire is marginalized by mainstream society or else it's an allegory about contemporary hypocrisy and repression.   I seriously doubt that the author intended the former, but that reading almost feels tighter than the second, clumsier option, especially since that topic itself is wide open, fertile ground for both speculative and non-speculative fiction.

The author paints a character whose sexuality alienates him from his own culture, but that sexuality itself doesn't break the mold in any way, shape, or form, least of all for literary characters.  I know it's been re-contextualized here through world-building, but I can't help feeling like the author was trying to win points for making his character Queer without having the guts to actually stray from the mores of his own, real, heteronormative world.  Which is a little insulting.  Also insulting is the idea that us straight types have to strain our imaginations to grasp why homophobia and repressive sexual politics are bad things, that we're incapable of wrapping our heads around the concept unless it's actually happening to us.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2008, 06:05:48 PM by Schreiber » Logged
Duffer
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« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2008, 06:26:11 PM »

This story was not my flavor of story and I had a hard time finishing it.  Stories that are only about sex and finding new and strange ways to write about it are not that interesting.  Give me a space battle.
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Schreiber
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« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2008, 07:23:43 PM »

The way space battles work in the "Pervert" universe is that one side leaves a point in space laden with mines and torpedoes, then flies away and waits for the other side to show up and crash into them.
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arcsine
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« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2008, 09:30:27 PM »

This story is an odd jumble. I must have missed what the author intended this story to convey.
I wonder why it's been sold and translated so much.

Maybe it pushes a bunch of buttons that feed phobias and negative beliefs.

Is it anti science? - 'If we allow that evil evolution in schools, someday those evil scientists will turn us into monsters reproducing in labs/pools.' :genetic sequences, zygotes, womb banks, wisdom of science

Is it anti Arabic? - 'They wear veils and separate the men and the women: them, other, different -monsters' :Haj or Hajj?, veils, sitar, prosecution of a man who's pet dog... stoning to death

Is it anti-religious? - 'You don't like religion - here's a fuzzy story about another crazy belief system you can sneer at.'

Is it homo-phobic? - 'You know all those news stories about same-sex marriage - they'll lead a warped world if we allow it.'

I don't know why I see all these negative aspects in the story.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2008, 09:33:37 PM by arcsine » Logged
arcsine
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« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2008, 09:31:15 PM »

  Also insulting is the idea that us straight types have to strain our imaginations to grasp why homophobia and repressive sexual politics are bad things, that we're incapable of wrapping our heads around the concept unless it's actually happening to us.
Schreiber, I agree that the message - 'how would it feel if the shoe was on the other foot'- is tired. I don't have a clue if the author intended that or just fell into it.
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2008, 09:42:07 PM »

  Also insulting is the idea that us straight types have to strain our imaginations to grasp why homophobia and repressive sexual politics are bad things, that we're incapable of wrapping our heads around the concept unless it's actually happening to us.
Schreiber, I agree that the message - 'how would it feel if the shoe was on the other foot'- is tired. I don't have a clue if the author intended that or just fell into it.

Broadening the scope from stories specifically about sexuality to fiction in general, it certainly is tired and worn out.  I didn't think much of it in White Man's Burden and thought even less of it here (though oddly enough I did enjoy Thomas Berger's Regiment of Women.)
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« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2008, 09:49:26 PM »

Meh and yuck. I liked the general sound of this story. I really gave my best at liking it. The premise really wasn't that terrible for me- however I kept expection it to go somewhere better. It never quite managed it.  All I really got out of this was "Golly I need to go hug my husband and kids." Other then that... Meh.
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« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2008, 02:01:18 AM »

  What a curious little story. I've listened to it twice now (and am listeing to it again now as I write), and I'm still not quite sure what I think of it.

  Did I enjoy it? Yes, it flows nicely, and is, of course, well read.

  Did I find it thought-provoking? Yes. I found the idea that the dominant religion's interpretation of their own writings can so completely alter society very interesting. I am tempted to use terms like "warped" to decribe the world of the story, but that is based on my accepting the norms of the society I am a part of as being what should be considered normal for everyone.

  I really thought it interesting that the religion of this future (?) so completely worked science into it beliefs, when in our present science and religion are often at war. Their entire way of keeping humanity going is seemingly the opposite of what is considered normal the by the society and religion that I am a part of.

  Did I like it? I do not know. The ending left me a little cold. Maybe I'm just not understanding something there, but if I do not get it after two listens, it is unlikely that I'm going to. Maybe if I knew more about this society, and how it go to where it is....

  I do feel a certain identification with the main characters, not because of my sexual "perversions", but because I've always felt a bit set aside from the rest of society. I also used to be told to smile so that I now walk around throwing on a vaguely stupid smile when I see people, even ones I do not want to smile at.
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Zathras
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« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2008, 08:27:34 AM »

Let me start this off by saying that I am not a prude and don’t care what anyone’s sexual preferences are. (Well, except my wife’s and mine.)

After the warning, I was tempted not to listen. I have found that, in general, the more sexual content most stories have, the less story they have. This one had little of either. Last week’s story needed a warning more than this one.

It seemed to be more of an outline, or possibly a chapter of a novel.

Let’s see if I can do the same:

Humans fucked things up. (Probably through polution or over population)

Some scientists realized the only way to save us is to prohibit direct breeding.

Must not let males and females be tempted.

(Insert descriptions of hot homosexual or machine love here)

Reveal method of societal procreation.

End.

While I personally think that porn and sci-fi shouldn’t mix, I don’t mind it when the story is strong.

GIGO

« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 09:34:24 AM by Zathras » Logged
eytanz
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« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2008, 08:57:28 AM »

Ack, I haven't listened to the story yet so I was avoiding the thread, then got suckered in by the rename.

Please do not rename the subject on official story threads.
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SFEley
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« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2008, 11:26:13 AM »

Please do not rename the subject on official story threads.

Huh?  Rename?  What'd I miss?
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