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Author Topic: EP174: Private Detective Molly  (Read 12555 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: September 06, 2008, 03:02:44 AM »

EP174: Private Detective Molly

By A.B. Goelman.
Read by Stephen Eley.

That’s when I see my new boss. Four feet of trouble. Brunette variety. Tear tracks cutting through the dirt on her face, wearing jeans that were already old when Molly Dolls were nothing more than molded plastic and fantasy homes.

She’s no idiot, though. “I want the Debutante persona,” she says. “You’re still not Debutante Molly are you?”

I like a girl who doesn’t need me to explain everything. “That’s right, kid,” I pull my blonde hair back into a pony tail and cover it with my fedora.

“Why do you keep coming out as a Petey persona?” Poor kid sounds like she’s about to cry. Don’t blame her for wanting Debutante Molly. Debbie’s the kind of girl who reminds me why God bothered with Adam’s rib in the first place. As wholesome and satisfying as a virgin daiquiri on a hot day. Everything I’m not. “Petey’s not even a girl’s name,” the kid says.


Rated PG. A somewhat dark kid’s story; contains parental tragedy and complex social issues.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Lagbert
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2008, 03:45:52 PM »

Fun story!  I'm glad to see escape pod showcasing stories with, if not lighter subject matter, lighter narration.

It's a good thing only the third law of robotics has been thrown out in private detective Molly's world, but what does it say about the future when it's the robots, rather than people, that value physical well being over financial well being.  I just hope Molly's new incarnation is too vapid to be useful to the social agents.

As a side note - Why does sci-fi almost always assume the republicans are in charge?



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Zathras
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2008, 05:38:43 PM »

Had to turn it off at about the 5 minute mark.  I don't know what it was about it, but I was more annoyed than anything. 

I'll give it a shot again Monday, just in case it's my mood rather than the story.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2008, 09:05:34 PM by Zathras » Logged
alllie
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« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2008, 07:45:27 PM »

Fun story!  I'm glad to see escape pod showcasing stories with, if not lighter subject matter, lighter narration.

It's a good thing only the third law of robotics has been thrown out in private detective Molly's world, but what does it say about the future when it's the robots, rather than people, that value physical well being over financial well being.  I just hope Molly's new incarnation is too vapid to be useful to the social agents.

I didn't find it light. I liked it but troubled me a bit. I’m political. A leftie. The world in the story made me think about how political action needed to be taken, even revolution, and that you can’t depend on the programming errors in a child’s toy to make things right in the world. (I assumed the manufacturers didn’t really mean the toy to have that much independence.) When the morality of a child’s toy or, last week, of an ancient robot, is better than that of their societies, it gives me pause. Still, I understand that you have to have conflict for there to be a story, and a story about how society properly cared for its ill and dying members regardless of income would have left no place for Sammie’s emotional and moral development. A story about how a little girl and her mother were properly cared for without the mother having to commit suicide to try to get health care for her child would have left no place for the Molly doll’s story. They were both good stories, I enjoyed them, but I am ready for stories about revolutions and social justice movements set in a scifi future.

These stories, enjoyable as they are, teach us no lessons, give us no guidance about how to make the world a better place.

Maybe that is too much to ask.

Even Richard Morgan stopped writing about Quellcrist so it probably is.
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Talia
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« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2008, 10:04:36 PM »

This has got to be my favorite episode of EP ever. I was totally charmed. What a wonderful, fun idea for a story. PD rocks! Now I really want one of these Molly dolls Cheesy

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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2008, 11:21:23 PM »

I don't want to sound ungrateful- but I cringed a bit at hearing that Anna Eley would be reading. Sometimes she gets the voices right - sometimes, not so much. I liked the story content. It was weird. It was fun.  I too was a bit more than unsettled by the idea of sentiant toys with no self preservation drive.  It's more the sentient part that really bothered me.. well that and the idea that my girl may one day want a Debutante Molly. I shudder to think of the rampant vapidness that would inspire. I liked the P.D. character- even the "twist" ending I saw coming from a bit off.  OVerall good story. I'll allow that once I got over my reservations I even enjoyed Annas reading.
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TristanPEJ
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« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2008, 07:15:52 AM »

This story was fun to say the least; though I do get the feeling that it would have gotten old if it had gone much longer. I was very pleased with the narration of the complete change of Molly's disposition at the end. I also think now that when I hear that Anna Eley is narrating I'll get an optimistic feeling about the next 45 minutes or so. She could read the day's stock changes and I'd find it entertaining.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2008, 09:31:03 AM by TristanPEJ » Logged

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zZzacha
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« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2008, 08:20:25 AM »

This was a very fun story indeed! Definitely one I put on my list of "fun episodes to re-listen".

I also did enjoy Anna's reading and I thought to myself: "WoW, Alex is one lucky boy. Having two parents who understand the power of stories and who can both really read a story very well." Reading a story - bringing a story and its characters to life - is an art and I think you two are great artists.

I do, however, understand MacArthurBug's criticism about Anna's voice. The first time I heard a story read by Anna I had to get used to her voice as well. Now, after months of digging into the EP archives, I have gotten to 'know' a lot of voices and their familiarity is very comfortable to my ears. Anna, as well as a lot of other readers, has a specific voice that works really well for specific characters and stories. And I love that. To me, it brings that extra power to a story that really scores a bull's eye for most of the EP episodes.

As I said at the start, the story was great! I am always a great fan of stories told by a point of view that is 'not ours'. It always points out great flaws in the things we ourselves take for granted. Although that was not really the issue in this story, but I still enjoyed it very much!
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bolddeceiver
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« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2008, 05:06:21 PM »

Great story.

This got me thinking about several other EP stories.  There's something really powerful to me about the unreliable first-person narrator, and we've had several stories over the years using the limited programming of AI poking around the edges of a much deeper story -- right away I can think of Little Worker, Edward Bear, and last week's Robots Don't Cry, to some extent.  Heck, the one way back at the beginning with the balloon penguin had a similar vibe, though without the AI angle.

On the political angle, I think it's no mistake that we have so many stories about the negative impacts of over-privatization of social services.  SF has a long history of presenting cautionary futures, and the movement away from welfare liberalism that's been underway in the US since the Reagan administration(and since the Thatcher administration in the UK, for that matter), it's no surprise that that particular extrapolation has been explored so much in SF over the past few decades.
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JoeFitz
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« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2008, 06:30:11 PM »

Seemingly a light enough story, though a tad predictable. I liked the PD character enough, but I was a little amused at several of the ideas about government in this cautionary polemic.

Let's see: a sentient toy "feels" for the child and decides to commit fraud because it is better to "save" a dying child than conform to the government health care system (hence it must be "bad"). A government so "bad" that it offers a 50% commission for privateers to uncover fraud against the government (or concoct it). Just having a snitch line for fraud obviously wasn't enough, and the crack government investigators just weren't motivated enough to root out fraud. Now that's a pretty "bad" government.

My quibble here is that we are given no context to judge the key moral question in this story. Not "is it okay to cheat an evil government" - I think that's (ahem) a red herring; but rather why should another child die to "save" this one? (I use "save" because we don't even know if the operation is a cure or just treatment).

I ask this because it seems that medical technology is either scarce or expensive in this universe. Even if the money or technology is not the issue - I presume that lungs for transplant are rare. Given that, I think it very likely that if this girl is "saved," another child will die. We are not told (although I suppose we could infer) that government would just waste the money. But if health care is fairly rationed to the "deserving poor" (as I think we could, alternatively, infer) then another child maybe whose mother actually was working two jobs and was actually killed in a car accident is going to die.
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biondolino
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« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2008, 12:28:47 AM »

     The thing that struck Me About the story is the personal conflict of interest. For a child's garden to be able to profit by denying that child life saving treatment is a mark of a country that I would not care to live in. [regardless of witch party is in power].
     
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Lionman
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« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2008, 11:01:15 AM »

I had mixed-emotions about this story.  It was drawing me along until PD was re-formatted into Debbie.  Then I was suddenly crest-fallen, that lasted too long before the mention of only having one personality now, the doll out-smarting the Guardian.  Undecided
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Zathras
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« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2008, 11:35:32 AM »

Ok, finished the story on the 5th try.  I haven't not finished an EP yet, and this one was kind of short.

William Shatner sums up my feelings on this.

From the video for Celebrity by Praid Paisley.
Shatner:  I liked the end (paraphrasing now)  You know, where the story stops, and there are no more words?  I like that

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEPe4fZNf74  you can just jump to 4:20 if you don't want to watch the video, but the whole thing is pretty funny.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2008, 03:20:48 PM by Zathras » Logged
wintermute
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« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2008, 01:03:30 PM »

Politics aside, I loved this story. "Kid noir", indeed; and it's a genre that needs to be explored further. I can't wait until I can get a PD Molly of my very own. Any toy that can outsmart humans like that is surely well worth having around.
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2008, 01:06:50 PM »

Just a quick note that my favorite Anna Eley reading is the flash piece "Wetting the Bed" from a year or two ago.
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Heradel
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« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2008, 03:08:15 PM »

The political discussion has been split and moved to this thread: http://forum.escapeartists.info/index.php?topic=1924.0
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hatton
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« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2008, 03:13:15 PM »

Mod request - can we take the politics out of the story thread please?  While I'm always up for a good conversation about the roles of government and responsibilities of individuals, I don't want them clouding the reviews of story-time!  Thanks for moving that!

For the story - I really liked this one!  After so many "meh" stories it was refreshing to listen to this one, even to figure out how PD worked around her own programming to thwart the "Social Inspector".

Thinking about it, I'd have to say that if I were to envision the world around this very encapsulated glimpse into the future, I'd have to put it into something akin to Blade Runner.
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Leon Kensington
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« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2008, 08:06:49 PM »

I really loved this story.  And I have to admit, it was the first one to make me cry.  If you haven't noticed I haven't been on the forum recently mainly due to dealing with some family issues one of which being a close family member with a disease.  I really felt for the little girl and found PeeDee a great mother-figure in the story.  The style was right up my alley (if you hadn't noticed I have a Dresden Files cover as my avatar so that shouldn't be too surprising, anyways I digress) and the idea of a watchdog type of doll was very interesting.

Frankly there were only two things that made me feel...is the correct term out of place?  The first being the social worker sounding a little like Agent Smith.  I'm not saying I think Anna sounds like Agent Smith, her reading was wonderful!  It was just that has dialog and characterization seems a little bit similar, though this could be from watching all three Matrix movies plus the Animatrix over the weekend.  The second thing was Debbie at the end of the story.  I understood the point of having that character but I couldn't help but think, "Wow, and here's Barbie!"  It was such a contrast from PeeDee, a foil if I could go so far as to say.

All in all, great story I would give it a solid 9.5 out of 10.
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taueret
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« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2008, 06:04:44 AM »

I loved this story- and I enjoyed the reading too.
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Listener
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« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2008, 09:50:18 AM »

Didn't like it. I don't think it actually covered any new ground. The toy/robot/AI-somehow-transcends-its-programming-and-rebels-against-an-evil-somethingorother has been done before and better. The whole governmental angle didn't interest me at all, though the fact that Alister was the good guy and the social worker the bad guy for once was a nice touch. The ending (when she becomes Debutante Molly) went on too long, though the narration was very good.

I do not care for Anna Eley as a reader. Her voice is difficult for me to listen to. She plays young characters well, but her manner of speaking and accent, to my mind, do not fit well for narration.

Overall, I was not pleased with this story.
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