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Author Topic: EP094: The Last Wave  (Read 8544 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: February 23, 2007, 05:04:33 AM »

EP094: The Last Wave

By Kay Kenyon.
Read by Frank Key (of Hooting Yard and Hooting Yard on the Air).

From what I gather, there are two competing theories about me. The ones who come with binoculars and cameras believe in the monster theory. I consider myself as siding with this group. The scientists, on the other hand, with their annoying echolocation devices, hold that I’m a prehistoric Earth creature, the last of my kind, cut off from my fellows. Sentimental drivel, of course. Drifting along under their hulls at night, I eavesdrop. They think I’m some kind of fish. But if they ever caught me, the DNA analysis would give them a bit of a jolt.

Ratied G. Contains aquatic monsters with a penchant for memorabilia. That’s about as scary as it gets.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!

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Simon Painter
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2007, 07:52:55 AM »

I always get worried when a writer uses the present tense, I've only very rarely ever seen it used effectively, it usually comes accross as airy and pretentious as, I'm afraid, is the case here.

There appears to be just about no plot present in this story, the most interesting bits appear at the beginning, which drop hints as to the origin of the Loch Ness Monster, but all this is soon disregarded for about 15 minutes of a Mike-Resnick-Style lovable monster thinking an awfull lot before spending time with an old woman on a boat, I almost expected the monster to surface looking like a Teddy Bear  Tongue

Since the dying old lady seems to be the focus of the story, I think it would have been far more interesting to follow her from the beginning, telling of her various attempts through the year to find the monster, which would culminate in the events shown in this story.  Though this being the case, it would be more effective to keep the monster almost utterly mysterious.

The other option would probably be to tell far more of the monster's life story and cut the old woman out all together.  As it is we get something that's neither fish nor fowl: two competing storylines and barely an inch of plot between them.

It's a real shame, there were a few elements within this story that felt worthy of exploration.

Simon Painter
Shropshire, UK
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VBurn
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2007, 10:17:49 AM »

The story was OK, but I never really got excited about it.  The reading was awesome.  Frank Key is getting to be one of my favs, but I think it is mostly because Steve picks great stories for him.  I thought he was the voice of the Gieco spoke lizard, but have thus far been unable to confirm or dismiss my sucpicsion.  The question of where did I hear this voice before has been circling the drain of my mind since the last story Frank read, but I guess picturing a talking Lochness Monster just shook something loose.
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Anarkey
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2007, 02:07:37 PM »

Hmmm.  My sample set of two tells me Kay Kenyon doesn't really hit my storytelling squids.  I suppose I need a larger sample set, but I'm not convinced I want one.

Like The Acid Test, I spent part of this story wondering why we were in the POV that we were (and apparently, not the only one who did so, As madSimonJ made similar comments) and part of the story wanting less talk and more action, especially in the present moment action.  For a story in present tense, we sure spent a lot of it in nostalgia land.

There were some lovely turns of phrase, the dandelion line, some bits about the pearls...but overall I give it a meh. 
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Talia
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2007, 02:35:23 PM »

I enjoyed this story, particularly that it was told from the "monster's" point of view rather than the human's. The notion that the Loch Ness monster is actually a trapped alien is a fun one.

Was it the most action-packed story in the world? No. It was more of an exploration of the relationship that was built between the monster and the humans he was trapped with. I think that removing the old woman or making it all from her perspective would have taken away the point (although I can certainly see interesting story potential in the latter. It would just be.. well, a different story).

I would have liked a little more development of the monster's character - maybe some flaws or personality quirks - but overall I thought the story worked pretty decently for what it was.
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Brian Reilly
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2007, 07:20:41 AM »

I liked this one. It's not likely to make my top ten, but was entertaining and interesting. I enjoyed the focus on the realtionship between Nessie and the old woman, and the idea of the Loch Ness Monster as an alien was intriguing (of course it's been done before- Doctor Who did it, for one). The pencahnt for memorabilia made the character more rounded, somehow. And the use of picoseconds to count time preserved some alienness in the character.

I'll set aside the question of how Nessie came to learn English despite minimal interaction with people- this is not intended to be a hard (or Mundane) SF story.

I didn't enjoy Kay Kenyon's last story half as much as I enjoyed this one. Was it as thought provoking as Silverberg's story of last week? No. Was it enjoyable? Yes.

And a Frank Key narration! Always welcome- even if he can't pronounce "Loch" correctly.
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contra
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« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2007, 11:56:40 AM »

Well; being Scottish I have fond feelings for Nessie.  My mother used to live beside Ness when she was a kid, so I've always had fond feelings for the idea.  At the time I wasn't too keen on the story; it left me with nothing; but thinking back on it, I did like it.  Seeing it through the monsters eyes isn't something new; and it always comes down to what the actions and the motivations are (see Ulla).  I liked this ones. 

I dont think the story would have worked from another point of view; then it would be about waiting for people to stop looking and getting things from neighbours to give to a monster in the loch.  It makes the woman seem crazy; and then there would be question as to whether the monster actually existed.  Ok that may have made for an interesting story; but it would have been very different to this one; and would have left very little explanation for the ending (assuming it happened the same way); and IMO have been a bad ending.

I do agree that the monster needed more development though... but then that would have changed how the story played out and its length.  Who knows.

In the end tt wasn't the best story I've ever listened to; but its nowhere near the worst; and its pretty far from average...(towards good)
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eytanz
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2007, 06:30:08 PM »

I enjoyed this story quite a bit. It's not hugely substantive, but it's engaged my interest and had a narrator just alien enough to be interesting, while at the same time being sympthetic.

I really hope that instead of introducing one more week of delay between a story post and the time its feedback is discussed, that Steve just gives the feedback for both "Acid Test" and "Boy who cried Dragon" next week. A four week delay is just too much - three weeks already makes it difficult for me to remember the details of the story discussed.
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Swamp
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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2007, 12:50:44 AM »

I think this was a nice story, having the perfect tone for the Nessie POV.  When I think about the Loch Ness Monster, I don't think of high action and racing plot, but instead a sense of melancholy, caution, and reflection, which is exactly what this story provided.  Well done.
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Thaurismunths
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« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2007, 10:06:55 AM »

I really hope that instead of introducing one more week of delay between a story post and the time its feedback is discussed, that Steve just gives the feedback for both "Acid Test" and "Boy who cried Dragon" next week. A four week delay is just too much - three weeks already makes it difficult for me to remember the details of the story discussed.

I suppose I haven't been paying attention to when feedback was and wasn't given. I thought that Steve mentioned the feedback when there was something worth mentioning. If I'm curious about other's feelings on a piece, I just read these forums.
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waiting4oct
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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2007, 05:35:45 AM »

Was anyone else confused by Nessie's units of time.  He implied that he'd been down there for a long time by saying something like 10^12 picoseconds.  1ps=10^-12s or one trillionth of a second.  It stands to reason Nessie has been around for far more than the past second.

I thought maybe I misheard the narrator, since a Petasecond is 10^15 seconds (over 31 million years)  But that doesn't seem right either, and he mentioned picoseconds again later.  It didn't really get in the way of the story too much, but this little inconsistency is bugging me for whatever reason.
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jeffwik
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« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2007, 02:23:23 PM »

Yeah, Nessie's dislike of units of time greater than a picosecond coupled with its use of only one significant figure --> unclear timekeeping.  I suppose this may have been intentional; Nessie breezes quickly past it, and it does suggest a certain alienness of thought.  But if so, it didn't work all that well.

I liked the reading considerably more than the story itself, which felt a bit too slow and a bit too shallow.
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FNH
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« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2007, 03:02:32 PM »

I think we just had another "dragon" story in disguise.

Thumbs up, more please.

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Swamp
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« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2007, 06:02:19 PM »

Steve,
What happened to the "first appered in" link for the stories on the website?  Just curious.
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wakela
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« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2007, 06:36:12 PM »

I vote for harder SF.

Nessie's character did not seem particularly alien, not even aquatic.  Would a creature that lives in the water compare something to dandelion pollen?  The only alienish concept was his use of picoseconds, which I thought was unnecessary and made things less clear.  If you are writring a character-driven, emotional story you should use little to no scientific notation. 

A personal pet peeve of mine is that I am tired of aliens that come to Earth and bitch about humans.  "Lo, these humans!  They have such potential but the still burn fossil fuels, make wars, and inconsistently separate their clear glass from their colored glass!"   We may like to have clocks around us, but we don't think in freakin picoseconds!  It makes sense that the character would be mopey after his being trapped, but it just felt like the author was on a soapbox.

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Mr. Bunny
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« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2007, 05:21:46 PM »

I kinda liked this one. Not a "Wow, that's great," but it wasn't bad. Not a lot of action, but that's fine with me. The idea of the Nessie being crazy teen stunt gone awry was cute. (Although it does presume that alien teens are very like humans.)

The 10^12 picosecond thing did bother me though. My guess is the author was throwing around a cool technical term that she didn't understand. Bad idea. The story didn't need it, and she'd've done better to skip it rather than throwing it in to be all SciFi.

One other thing I was unclear on was what happened to the woman at the end. He mentioned that she wasn't breathing...so was the "lair" in an underwater air pocket, or was the monster unaware that humans can't breathe underwater? Did he kill her unwittingly? Or am I just thinking too much about this?
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Monty Grue
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« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2007, 04:24:24 PM »

Not all stories have to serious, but this was a little light weight for my tastes.  I thought it had too much of a young adult feeling to it, though the G rating should have warned to to stay clear.

I enjoyed the narration.
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jamesotron
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« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2007, 05:23:06 PM »

I was left feeling vaguely let down by this story - it seemed to have a lot of potential but failed to live up to my initial expectations.  All form no function you might say.

It did make good filler while waiting for the next episode of the rookie, however.

It crossed my mind that it could be considered crass to ask a pom to narrate a Scottish story. My first instinct was to blame it on "stupid americans" not understanding the difference, but then I remembered that I was listening to Escape Pod and not the right wing religious fundies from texas podcast and that Steve's a pretty sharp guy.
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SFEley
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« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2007, 06:42:47 PM »

It crossed my mind that it could be considered crass to ask a pom to narrate a Scottish story. My first instinct was to blame it on "stupid americans" not understanding the difference, but then I remembered that I was listening to Escape Pod and not the right wing religious fundies from texas podcast and that Steve's a pretty sharp guy.

Yep.  In fact it crossed my mind too.  But I didn't have any Scottish volunteers on hand when I bought this piece, Frank wanted to read some more for us, and I didn't want to tell him no.

If pressed harder, however, my final cheap rationalization is that the alien in the loch was not Scottish.  >8->
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Roney
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« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2007, 07:10:33 PM »

And a Frank Key narration! Always welcome- even if he can't pronounce "Loch" correctly.

First time.  He did say "Lock Ness".  But I'm fairly sure he said "loch" the second time.  Like you, I was listening out for it.

It's "loch", you heathens! Smiley  With a "ch".  I think I need one of these too:  Angry

Yep.  In fact it crossed my mind too.  But I didn't have any Scottish volunteers on hand

Now the forums are back up, we're here.  I know I'm not the only one.  One of us must be able to organize a microphone.
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