Episode 58: To Be Alone Again by Tom Crosshill

Paul Davery has a problem. His mind was just hijacked, and while he was out, his body murdered his best friend. Now, he’s in a desperate search to discover who is responsible before the authorities find out and throw him in jail.bloopers

Also, Rish talks about his aversion to Cyberpunk, and Big calls himself a “craphole.” Then they argue about James Cameron’s Avatar, which they went to together, and Rish rambles semi-offensively for a while. They may mention their worst moviegoing experiences in there somewhere.

Special thanks to Liz Mierzejewski, Julie Hoverson and Josh Roseman for lending their voices to this episode.

Right click HERE to download the episode, select Save Link As, and save the file to your hard drive.


Related Links:
Tom Crosshill’s Site
19 Nocturne Boulevard
Josh Roseman’s Site
Liz Mierzejewski’s Site
Music by Silence, and special end music by J.E.L.L.i.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


11 Responses to “Episode 58: To Be Alone Again by Tom Crosshill”

  1. Cambodia Carl Says:

    Have y’all seen “District 9,” where the aliens are pretty much just cockroach creatures, like you mentioned? Did you have trouble relating to, or liking, those aliens?

  2. You know, that’s a good question. I saw DISTRICT 9, but Big didn’t, and while these were considerably less human-looking aliens than the Na’vi, I did end up pitying them and wishing them success.

    I never, however, found myself attracted to them, which I know was the filmmaker’s intention regarding Neytiri.

  3. TremblingEagle Says:

    imagine that the a white guy that just wants everybody to get over racism. White privilege, what white privilege?

    Let see Jake gets adopted by the salamander people and becomes not just a warrior but the BEST warrior of all time, bones the chiefs daughter and leads them all to freedom. Who can’t relate to that?

  4. If my race and gender don’t happen to be bad enough . . . remember that I sat in the handicapped section.

  5. As for cyberpunk, it is usually inscrutable in the written form. I had to go to the Neuromancer wiki page to figure out what was going on. It was like Shakespeare – Of The FUTURE! I’ve read many CP short stories, but only the one novel.

    But put them on film and they’re often my favorites. I think Neuromancer would translate incredibly to film, with the right script and director

    Avatar… I loved the art. But I didn’t want to be stuck in a chair for 2.6 hours to look at awesome art. The story was meh. The biology mehmeh.

    Here’s a great link to the science of Avatar which was really fascinating.

  6. I saw Avatar in 3-D, and I really liked it. Specifically, I felt like the dogfight between the pterodactyl-things and the helicopter-things among floating mountains was totally worth the price of admission to watch in 3-D. That was my favorite part of the whole movie! I was sad that I couldn’t watch it in IMAX 3-D, but the IMAX has been sold out for days in advance since it came out. Kind of amazing. I’m not sure this would even be worth watching on a small screen, and I think people know that. It’s why they’re crawling over each other to see it in the biggest spectacle possible, as many times as possible.

    So, yeah, my female perspective is – more dinosaurs ripping planes apart, please!! Oh, and I guess there were characters, too.

    The good guys were utterly predictable, but I didn’t mind, because the whole thing was just so shiny. The gal was definitely the pick of the litter for interesting good guys. As Rish said, the villains were superbly-draw assholes. The military guy and the accountant made the hero lovable just by comparison. I particularly liked (from a story-telling viewpoint) the little touch where the military guy carries his coffee into battle. That was gold. It actually takes skill to make villains who are that unlikeable.

    Finally – hair sex with dragons? That was…different. I really wanted someone to scalp one of the aliens just to see what they’d do without their hair phallus, but nobody ever did. I decided that the hair must contain a second spinal cord coming out the back of their heads, protected by practically nothing. I kept trying to figure out how that worked. I did notice that in at least two scenes, hair was treated in a threatening way.

  7. STORY: I found this interesting, though at this point “mental hijacking” has become somewhat common as a story focus. I enjoyed the concept of having to go underground to… conjoin, was it? Conjunct? — Even though these people were doing it of their own free will, it was still illegal. The “can your conjoiner’s morals overcome your own?” angle was kind of interesting, and then right after I listened to the story I happened to watch “The Schizoid Man” episode of ST:TNG, so, double-whammy. I also liked the MC looking for someone to complete him and finally finding it in an unlikely place, though again that story focus has been used quite a lot lately. Still, this story was written when it was relatively new, so I’m fine with it in context.

    PRODUCTION: The sound of being conjoined was REALLY annoying. I would have probably gone with a gradual fade of the sound or the low hum in “Serial Experiments Lain” used to indicate the proximity of wires. I didn’t mind Rish as the old Russian woman; Rish does very good old-woman voices.

    COMMENTARY: The phrase you were looking for is probably “classically relevant” or “notable works”. I haven’t read a lot of seminal (my inner 12-year-old giggles) works either, though I do love Heinlein. His stories especially suffer from time-based localization bias — unconventional family units seen through the conventional eyes of the year he was writing, spools of tape (Stranger in a Strange Land), allegory to current (for the time) sociopolitical issues, etc. I have not read Neuromancer.

    Here’s a time-localization bias for you: in the early 1990s, Diane Duane wrote the excellent ST:TOS novel “Doctor’s Orders”, in which McCoy has to command the Enterprise in battle when Kirk disappears from a planet they’re surveying. In the beginning, Spock mentions offhand that Starfleet has upgraded their computers with an additional 80 terabytes of storage space for the upcoming planetary survey. Now, for comparison’s sake, I have almost three terabytes (mostly in backup form) of various NSFW movies and images, collected sporadically over a decade. And that’s just one guy. The Enterprise has hundreds of science, medical, and engineering staff, each of them constantly collecting data. 80TB will fill up pretty damn fast.

    AVATAR: I skipped that part; I haven’t seen the film yet.

  8. Another well-done story. The universe of the story was rich. You could tell that there was much more going on than just this one story. That always leads to more enjoyable texture. And it also helps the author to draw you in extremely quickly. I thought the production and the accents were all well-done.

    Avatar: I saw it and thought it was extremely well-done. Were conventional racially/ethnically-tinged tropes and mythos present? Of course. And there’s also a bit of carbon monoxide in the air that I breathe as I walk down the street. Every culture aggrandizes itself and idealizes/fetishizes its history and social structures. The trick is knowing how to recognize this and learning to inocculate oneself against it, not naively expecting to eliminate it.

    I really enjoyed that movie. Beautiful on so many levels. A beautiful dream.

  9. I thought the story was really different. As in, I don’t do CP. But, if this is indicative of CP, wow. I liked it.

    As for Avatar, I didn’t see it. I went to The Princess and The Frog instead. I’m still not sure if I loved it. I did like it though. It’s so much better than what we’ve seen from Disney in a while. (Not including the Pixar stuff, which I love.)

    I’ll have to see Avatar based on Abbie’s observation of it being so shiny. No better praise than that!

  10. Just heard your Pseudopod work!
    I am so jealous… I’ve loved that podcast forever.

  11. I think you’re reading the wrong SF, guys. See, the problem with The Seminal (huh huh huh) works of SF is that it’s OLD. It was ground-breaking in the sixties and 80’s, but most of it comes off badly dated, not in the tech (though that happens sometimes) but in the style of the prose.
    A lot of the Big Names in SF wrote Big Idea stories. Guys like Vinge, Stepheson, Gibson, and others, came up with great ideas. Trouble was, their writing was just so-so. “Clunky prose, shallow characters, but wow, just imagine if…” is a typical reaction to their work. If your reader just can’t follow unless they have a BS in computer science, you’re writing it wrong.
    Try reading some of the more recent stuff. Try Bank’s stuff, where the tech is so far future that it’s basically Handwavium, or Stephen R. Donaldson’s “Gap” series, which is focused more on characters than Big Ideas.

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