EP101: The 43 Antarean Dynasties

1998 Hugo Winner!
By Mike Resnick.
Read by Steven Burley and Gregg Taylor (of Decoder Ring Theatre).
Discuss on our forums.
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 1997.
All stories by Mike Resnick.
All stories read by Steven Burley and Gregg Taylor.

A man, a woman, and a child emerge from the Temple of the Honored Sun. The woman holds a camera to her eye, capturing the same image from a dozen unimaginative angles. The child, his lip sparsely covered with hair that is supposed to imply maturity, never sees beyond the game he is playing on his pocket computer. The man looks around to make sure no one is watching him, grinds out a smokeless cigar beneath his heel, and then increases his pace until he joins them.

They approach me, and I will myself to become one with my surroundings, to insinuate myself into the marble walls and stone walkways before they can speak to me.

I am invisible. You cannot see me. You will pass me by.

“Hey, fella — we’re looking for a guide,” says the man. “You interested?”

Rated PG. Contains mild documentary references to violence and sexual acts. It’s also not very upbeat.

Referenced Sites:
Joe Murphy Tribute Podcast
Joe Murphy Memorial Fund
Beatnik Turtle

Comments (20)

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  1. Lee Cherolis says:

    Welcome back Steve. 43 Dynasties nicely kicked off your next 100 Escape podcasts. I don’t think you’ve run a Mike Resnick story that I haven’t enjoyed. The whole episode took a very serious tone. Well done.

  2. Ryan Nichols says:

    Dear Steve,

    Outstanding story and production. The portrayal of the tour guide was well-wrought: gentle, knowing, incisive. The atmospheric cut-ins used for stage-setting were well-done.

    I was pleased to hear such a careful, nuanced description of the relationship between tourist and guide. I’m certain that Mike has seen a number parallel situations with Western tourists in Africa. I’m pleased that Mike didn’t seem to me to be suggesting that people from developed countries are not morally permitted to, in effect, take advantage of economic disparities with underdeveloped countries to travel to them and experience their riches. (Or was he, kind of?) But I am happy that he drew attention to the need for such travelers to appreciate the history and, more importantly, the people in those places.

    Glad you enjoyed your vacation, and thanks again!

  3. Peter Tupper says:

    I don’t like stories in which I’m never surprised by anything. The characters never broke out of stereotypes. The tourists are big ugly Americans, the guide is a long-suffering and tragic noble savage. I think the relationship between colonizer and colonized is much more complicated and ambiguous, with each side viewing the other through a haze of fantasy. Does the guide have absolutely no interest in the place his customers call home?

    This story could be based on a visit to just about any developing nation on Earth. It reminded me of my own visit to India, but it didn’t tell me anything new about colonized societies.

  4. Lar says:

    Only 3 comments after nearly a week for a Hugo winner!?!

    I agree with what everyone has said so far, good and bad. Bottom line, the story held my interest throughout and kept me thinking about it long after the reading was done. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it though.

  5. slic says:

    Most of the comments are on the very cool forums now


  6. Wes Reid says:

    Mr. Resnick has really become an institution on Escape Pod. I, for one, have enjoyed each and every one of his stories that has been run. This story has to be one of my favourites and serves as a great allagory for the world we live in. It reminded me of the history of my country, Canada, and how we completly destroyed the indiginous people’s way of life.
    The message may be pretty obvious, but that’s not a bad thing. I really enjoyed how it was presented and the production values really added to my fun with the story.
    Please, keep on buying Mike’s stories! I can’t get enough!

  7. Gary H says:

    Beautiful and tragic.

    Perfectly read (although could’ve done without the effects on the historical readings)

    I’d like to think that as a race, humans have learned something from their past, but fear that wherever there are resources to be plundered, greed will supersede and the powers that be will follow the money. Certain members of our species see themselves as superior to other members of the same species, so they will certainly think they are superior to another species should we happen upon an alien species first. I sometimes hope another species find us first, just so this story never happens.

    The story is well deserving of the Hugo.

  8. I was impressed by Mr Resnick’s balanced approach to the idea. It would have been easy to write a polemic against colonialism or a tribute to empire, but although the Antareans are depicted with great sympathy there is also a nod towards the absurdity of their situation.

  9. JMCampbell says:

    I liked the story, but there seems to be a trend in the more modest sci fi stories that humans come off as jerks when meeting other species. I wonder if that’s a reflection on humanity as a whole, or of the cultural group the writer comes from.

  10. SKCammarata says:

    I loved this story. I get the automatic downloads from Escape Pod and love most of the stories. I delete those that I don’t want to keep—you have been on a run recently and i have saved quite of few of the recent stories.

    I was a big sci fi fan in my youth, but have gotten too busy with my adult life to read routinely. Thanks so much for this podcast–it reminds me of why I love the genre and in this format i can listen anywhere (esp since i travel a lot–great for intercontinental flights)

  11. Kristina says:

    I also love Decoder Ring Theatre. They are indeed awesome.

    I’m not really sure if I liked this story. I didn’t hate it, though. I liked how the tourists were lied to for the sake of convinence. It makes me wonder what lies have been told to me when I go on tours. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m a history major, but now, I kinda feel like researching all the info I was told on tours to make sure that it’s all backed up.

    I liked the shiny effects that they did for the historical part of the story. Except that the first one confused me, when it transition into the story. And then after that I got the hang of it quickly.

    I sincerely hope that when humans meet aliens, they don’t see us as jerks or in any other negative light. I’m not a jerk, just crazy-hyperactive- because- I – ate- too- much- sugar.

  12. Ethernight says:

    I have to say, this is the first story I have heard on Escape Pod that I outright dislike. Primarily, I found the whiny tone very unappealing. On a lesser note, the special effects came off as pretty cheesy.

  13. strixus says:

    I remember reading this in 97 when it first appeared, but had forgotten it in the many years that had gone by since. When I listened to this, it made me remember reading it the first time, back in High School, and how impressed I had been with it then. The story still impresses.

    And I went home to my parents house, found the issue it was in, and reread the entire issue – I’ve kept every issue of Asimov‚Äôs I’ve gotten since my parents bought me a subscription in ’94 to encourage me to read more fiction.

    Thank you for the great flashback to a great story and a great issue!

  14. Harris says:

    First of all, God bless Kurt Vonnegut, the great atheist saint as well.
    Second, the story could have easily been set anyway in North Africa or South-east Asia, the science fiction elements only a plus.
    A great story though and deserved the Hugo.

  15. […] reader duties this week! We’re reading a Hugo-award winning story by Mike Resnick called The 43 Antarean Dynasties, so tune […]

  16. […] reader duties this week! We’re reading a Hugo-award winning story by Mike Resnick called The 43 Antarean Dynasties, so tune […]

  17. […] in the December 1997 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. • There is a free version online at EscapePod.org, but it is an audio file in mp3 format. You can stream it through your browser, or download and […]

  18. Norm says:

    This seems to be more of a commnetary on the world today: Egypt / Africa. I’m still not sure if I liked it or not. Okay, but feel like it was too subtle and needed more of a punch at the end.

  19. dyale says:

    Wow… excellent!