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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.

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

Comments (23)

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  1. Lee Cherolis says:

    Yes! Another great reading by Frank Key. After listening to The Team-Mate Reference Problem in Final-Stage Demon Confrontation, I downloaded all the Hooting Yard Podcasts I could find. Please ask Frank, Wichita and Scott Fletcher to read more often!

  2. Gary H says:

    I have not finished the story yet, but wanted to comment on the intro. Excellent job, Steve. You took a subject unrelated to escapepod, wrapped it in great prose, and delivered a commentary that would make a great flash piece. By far the best commentary on the subject I have heard, and maybe will hear (or read).
    Just goes to show that fiction can make a point, and be fun. Very nicely done.

  3. Matt Kay says:

    Hi Steve, I’ve been a huge fan of escape Pod for a while now, but really feel I need to get something off my chest. Its not really related to this story, but I’m using it for reference (but I do love any reading by Frank Key).
    My issue is the way Americans (you included, Steve) pronounce the word ‘niche’. IT DRIVES ME INSANE!
    Look at the word carefully, it is not spelt NITCH.
    If you want make me a very happy Welshman, listen to Franks pronounciation of the word in EP094 at 11.14. Pactice it quitely to yourselves in your bedrooms for a few days, and NEVER say nitch again.
    I don’t know whats happening to me – I’m not usually like this….really …….

  4. madSimonJ says:

    Thank goodness you never got started on the way they pronounce’Tolkien’ or ‘Nietzsche’ :-p

    It’s actually not American as such, there’re plenty of people in the UK that pronounce it as ‘Nitch’ as well (the late Jon Pertwee is the only example I can think of off the top of my head. It’s technically incorrect (being a French word in origin) but accents being accents…

    Simon Painter
    Shropshire (Nearly Wales), UK

  5. Marty says:

    I really enjoyed this story. I’ve often thought of writing a story based on the theory that Nessie is an exile from “somewhere else.” Looks like someone beat me to it. Well, perhaps I’ll write it anyway. It has a different spin. Keep up the good work.

  6. dokein says:

    That’s a good tale. The phrase, “So long, and thanks for all the fish” comes to mind :-)

  7. Nobilis says:

    I love the Windows Vista description.

  8. orkspace says:

    Poignant and delightful! Kudos on the reading too. :-)

  9. Chris says:

    I think there is an error in the authors’ time relationships.
    10 to the power of 9 picoseconds = 1 millisecond. According to the story that is the length of time Nessie has been trapped here by the cave-in. Not very long. Am I missing something here?

  10. john says:

    Vista…. groan….

  11. jparris says:

    At first I thought that your opener was about a ghost in your house. Ha Ha, it was a great analogy. Sort of like Cory Doctorrow’s drm analogy of selling you a car with the hood wheilded shut. I’m currently listening to the story, another narration by frank key.

  12. JDX says:

    I am relatively new to Escape Pod, having picked up at around Ep 80, however I’ve listened back from there a fair way. Listening to this week’s episode, however, I was obliged to remark on the luck we’ve had to have such an ambitious project freely available, with such a great editor behind it. In the 30 or so stories I’ve gotten to hear so far, I have found 5 which I didn’t like very much and those few were more a case of lack of interest in the subject matter. That has to count for something. Keep up the great work Steve.

    As for the story itself, it is one of the many here that I love. Like in her previous story, Kay Kenyon takes one of those myths that everyone hears and no-one believes and makes it painfully and vividly real. The truth is never as simple as it seems, but the character building here is perfect. The idea that people grow to love their monsters makes a powerful statement about modern sci-fi. There is a strong trend, bought on by changing times I suppose, toward making our scary creatures real, giving them lives which we can identify with. This story shows us why.

  13. Chris' evil twin says:

    I like it too, but was distracted by the inaccurate time measurements. I agree with the other Chris

  14. Bob Dushay says:

    Absolutely wonderful story, and Mr. Key is one of my favorite narrators. I liked the aging theme and thought it was handled very well, and I enjoyed Nessie’s love-hate conflict about showing hiserself. The story made me want to laugh and shout with pleasure, and I’ll share it with my wife, another Nessie fan since our honeymoon in Scotland.

  15. Nessie Phone Home says:

    Another one here who was annoyed by the inaccurate time. Pico is a prefix meaning 10^-12. So at about 6 minutes in, when he says he has been there 10^12 picoseconds, that equates to 1 second.

    Plus, it is pronounced “peeko” and not “pyko”. That drove me crazy, and I haven’t even finished listening to the story yet!

    (Please, could you make sure that the guest readers check unusual words with you for correct pronunciation? This isn’t the first time someone has mispronounced words in otherwise good readings. It really can distract from great stories and performances!)

  16. Matt Kay says:

    Pico / Pyko – who cares.

    The man knows how to pronounce niche and that’s all that matters to me this week.

  17. Will says:

    The pico thing drove me crazy too. I kept doing calculations trying to figure out if a pico second was 10^9 or 10^-9. Neither made sense. Now I see that according to NPH even the right answer didn’t make sense.

  18. Wiz says:

    Three things.

    1) The pycoseconds [sic] drove me crazy, as well as the fact that Nessie had been trapped for 1 full second, and the chute had been blocked for 1/1000 of a second. Otherwise, I liked the reading, as well as the story.

    2) Matt Key: it IS pronounced nitch in English. It’s pronounced neesh in French. See, e.g., Dictionary.com

    3) Steve, while I agree that the Vista prompting (UAC) can get annoying, especially in the beginning when you’re installing and configuring programs, none of y’all Mac afficionadoes ever mentions that MacOS has been doing the same thing for years, as does Linux, and that it’s actually the way Windows should have been doing it all along. The thing that worries me about all the Windows bashers griping about this feature is that they will end up encouraging other users to turn UAC off, which I think would be a bad end-result.

  19. Hey Steve! Long time listener, first time commenter. If you’re just now doing the switch to Vista, you probably don’t have a whole lot of time invested in it… Which means it might be the perfect time to give linux a trial run. Ubuntu has a LiveCD (www.ubuntu.com) which has the benefit of allowing you to try it without installing anything on your computer. Linux as a whole is faster, uses less memory, less HD space, is easier to install new programs with, and takes less than half of Vista’s hardware to run vista-like effects. (I run something called “beryl”. Look it up on youtube; it makes Vista look drab by comparison) I run Debian Linux almost exclusively on this box; I literally only switch over onto the windows HD when I want to play Rome:Total war.

    Also, as a quick response to Wiz’s comment about Vista UAC: Yes, some versions of linux do the same thing, however, Linux uses a password, which makes the prompting have a point, (Preventing people who don’t know your administrator password from changing your computer) and you can go into superuser mode, using a variety of methods, entirely bypassing the confirmation screens altogether. In short, yes Linux does have a UAC, but it’s more flexible and more functional than Windows’.

    I’ll stop beating the horse now. Have a nice day : )

  20. SFEley says:

    Hi Jeffrey,

    Actually, I’ve been running Linux since 1995, with one of the early Slackware distributions. I’m pretty well-versed in it, although these days I have more Macs around the house.

    I probably should make clear here that I don’t actually own a machine running Windows Vista. That little piece came out of my attempts to explain to someone else what I thought was objectionable about Vista’s security and DRM policies. A security feature loses its security when it annoys or impedes legitimate users so much that they start looking for ways around it.

  21. Frank Key says:

    Reluctant though I am to wade into the ‘peeko’/’pyko’ debate, I should point out that the Oxford English Dictionary (that monumental work of scholarship) gives both pronunciations. Apologies if I chose the one that grated on certain ears, but I wanted to clarify that it’s a matter of taste and choice, not correct and incorrect.

  22. Dan the Man says:

    I had assumed that the author knew what picoseconds were and meant it to indicate a different perception of time, somehow. The use of picoseconds instead of seconds seemed to obscure our understanding of Nessie’s perception of time.