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Author Topic: EP091: The Acid Test  (Read 12140 times)
Jim
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« on: February 02, 2007, 07:17:07 AM »

EP091: The Acid Test
Rated PG.

By Kay Kenyon.
Read by cunning minx (of Polyamory Weekly).
First appeared in Talebones, Winter 2004.

“It’s my husband. He’ll go. He wants to go.”

The alien looked down the hall as though he’d rather be home nursing a beer than dealing with a disgruntled housewife at 4:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon.

“Please.” She tried not to sound desperate. “He’s young and healthy. College degree, business administration.” She thought that last might not help. “With a math minor.”

Rated PG. Contains some sexual innuendo, relationship issues, and unpleasant cheese odors.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2007, 09:14:15 AM by Jim » Logged

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Thaurismunths
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2007, 08:48:24 AM »

I'm not sure what to say about this one. The story was only so-so. The aliens were kind of incongruent with the relationship plot, even though they were directly related, and there wasn't much of a twist. I think someone said in the contest rules that "a story about a boy and his dog isn't sci-fi even if the boy is from mars and the dog is a balloon."
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nooker
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2007, 01:55:50 PM »

I don't know if I liked it or not, but I found the testing annoyingly realistic (I hate it when friends (particlularily women) test your devotion to them).  One thing that crossed my mind when I finished is:
What if it were some elaborate plot on the husband's part to get rid of the wife, wouldn't that suck!  It would certainly be effective and she would feel as though she were saving him, so she'd have no regrets and be lightyears away.  Hubby then would be free to play as much as he wanted.
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J.R. Blackwell
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2007, 03:19:23 PM »

I liked this story. I liked that the main character wanted to test the relationship. This made her very flawed, and very human to me, which grounded me in the story. I had a boyfriend who "tested" the relationship by breaking up with me (expecting to have me coming running back) and was surprised when I didn't come back to him.

This kind of "testing" has always been curious to me, because it doesn't actually seem like a "test" at all, but like one partner driving the other away. In this case, the wife seemed to be driving her husband away because she was hurt that his love was not unconditional. Rather than have him leave her, she was going to opt to send him away. I think that many people, worried about losing someone, might choose this course out of fear. Sometimes it's scary to love someone so much.

I don't see a lot of fiction about this and I find it refreshing. I'm always interested in fiction that shows a situation from a different point of view than I've experienced. I would say that I was on the husbands side before, so it was interesting to hear the point of view of the wife.

Putting it in a science fiction story made a difficult and close to home subject easier to take, like water with aspirin. Well done.
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2007, 06:15:09 PM »

Agreed. I like seeing this all-too-typical relationship test put in a speculative setting. But, in a similar vein to the comments Steve mentioned in today's outro regarding readers' reactions to the "dragon's blood" piece, this one too seemed like a straight plug-n-play piece. Alien trips = breakups. Dragons = cars.

BTW, one thing I really love about your outros, Steve, is the way you color them to fit the subject of the just-finished story. "I'm not sure galactic civilization is ready for... Daikaiju yet". Love it.
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slic
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« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2007, 09:01:43 PM »

Put me in the unimpressed column.  I agree with popepat in that it was a simple substitution story, though there were interesting fringe elements about face recognition and melted pistachio ice cream. 

Quote
One thing that crossed my mind when I finished is:
What if it were some elaborate plot on the husband's part to get rid of the wife, wouldn't that suck!
Same here, near the very end when she went looking for her boyfriend and found him hiding in the words, I thought "What a neat twist, he tried for the "easy" breakup and went for a sightly more elaborate hoax than having a friend tell her he died - feeding of her nonsensical belief of aliens - and then got caught."  Then she goes and does the cliche "take him not me".
Ah well, the flash fiction contest is filling my voracious appetite for good sci-fi.
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Gary
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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2007, 02:42:47 PM »

Sad

Well it had to happen eventually, I guess.
Escape Pod finally ran a story that I can actually say I didn't like.
Still, 90 winners in a row is pretty phenomenal!

For me, this story was just too much "LifeTime TV Channel tries to do Sci-Fi".
It's not that I don't care for relationship stories. EP has run several that have left me near tears (Damn you Mike Resnick) and count as some of my all time favorites from any medium. "The Acid Test" though just left me flat.

I wish I could offer something more constructive. I do agree with the above post that suggested this might have made a better flash fiction piece. Perhaps shorter and more to the point.

Sorry I don't have anything else.
Maybe I should have just left it as "I didn't like this one".
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cyron
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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2007, 08:59:02 PM »

Well the one thing I got from that story is that I will never, ever, understand women Smiley
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DKT
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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2007, 02:36:54 PM »

Interesting -- I guess I'm one of the few who liked this story.  I thought the wife setting up her husband was pretty heart-breaking, esepcially toward the end when she realized what she had done.  I kinda thought the story would end there, or with the husband running and her to trying to help him. Then she ended up taking his place, which I guess gave her character more of an arc but I'm not sure that bit worked for me).  Other than that, I quite enjoyed the story. 
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.Morph.
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2007, 06:28:48 PM »

And the moral of the story is be happy with the love you receive or be kidnapped and probed my bearded aliens.

I like it.

O and the story itself wasnt so bad either. I liked it all in all. It gave the reality of the subject of love another dimension. Almost literally.

Thumbs up n all that.
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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2007, 08:29:20 PM »

I hate saying this, because I really appreciate the emphasis on more sci-fi lately, but I really didn't like this story.  Everyone was way too dispassionate given the events occurring.  When heroine finds out she's been tricked, and her husband is getting taken away, the result is akin to finding out her store is out of milk.
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BSWeichsel
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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2007, 10:16:30 AM »

I liked the story but once again I know that I will never understand why people are willing to test their loves.

I felt no fault on the mans part because as far as he knew the "trip" would never even be possabile so why would he give serious thought to it.

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obuchiteck
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2007, 10:25:08 AM »

Quote
What if it were some elaborate plot on the husband's part to get rid of the wife, wouldn't that suck!
This wouldn't suck, this man would be my hero. *calls wife* Honey, you know I really want to go on an alien ship to other worlds..
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Russell Nash
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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2007, 11:01:40 AM »

I just found this one to be a bit of a retread.

Test love
realize mistake
take place
end

I knew where it was going as soon as the husband decided to go and I don't like trying to guess the story. I like to wait and have it come to me. The fact, that I couldn't avoid seeing the ending coming, makes it even more annoying
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Dr Frankenshroom
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2007, 01:47:25 PM »

I really liked the story. 
I have read many accounts of the CE III  kind from many books
One can say this ET friendly story.
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fiveyearwinter
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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2007, 08:15:13 AM »

She reminded me of my ex-girlfriend. ::shudder::

Anyway - I found the ending to be a little predictable, and frankly - I had no sympathy for the woman, either. She forced the issue. Did she stop to consider that maybe, if he were really that cavalier about going, he would have worked as hard as she did to find them?

To spread blame equally - he was pretty much stupid for saying he would go, especially when he was so skeptical of alien life existing on earth.

I was also a little confused about the timeline. He escaped almost immediately with all that explanation of how wrong it was? I don't know.
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JaredAxelrod
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« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2007, 12:27:17 PM »

Aliens You Will Meet, huh?

Why, that sounds like an excelent podcast.
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Roney
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« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2007, 01:23:27 PM »

I knew where it was going as soon as the husband decided to go

I disliked it for almost the opposite reason.  I'd been quite involved the story while it was being set up; I liked the test device and the way it built towards its crisis point.  Then the crisis was resolved with the husband finding that he didn't actually like what he'd wished for.  And then the story kept on going.  And for no reason I could fathom the wife suddenly decided to go in his place.

I'm sure it was meant to convey the wife's deep, self-sacrificing love for her husband -- or maybe her deep guilt at engineering the test -- but I got none of that from the build-up or the resolution.  It seemed out of character and not at all satisfying for this listener.

Maybe I missed something.
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cyron
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« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2007, 08:19:46 PM »

Then the crisis was resolved with the husband finding that he didn't actually like what he'd wished for.  And then the story kept on going.  And for no reason I could fathom the wife suddenly decided to go in his place.

That is exactly what got me.  I have no idea why she went, given that he had, to all intents and purposes, passed the test. 
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contra
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« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2007, 06:34:41 PM »

I've loved pretty much every story from escape pod; but not this one.  I didn't hate it, on any level; but while listening to my MP3 player, if I have to cut listening story, i'll pick up from where I left off every time.  With this one I couldn't be bothered and moved on to another podcast.  I finished it 3 days later, but it just didn't feel like it was satisfying as a story to me.  Some of the ideas were good; but I just didn't like this one overall, for no good reason though.

Maybe it was the same as the reasons above, the end felt out of character and an unnatural twist (take the end of the usual suspects; without the last 5-10 minutes the movie works pretty well, with it it is just awesome; that twist was natural, and it felt good).
Maybe its because I always hate girls who test the relationship seing if it will fail, and end up being the cause of the failure; and that gave the story a negative spin in my mind. 

Who knows.
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