EP179: Arties Aren’t Stupid

By Jeremiah Tolbert.
Read by Philippa Ballantine (of Chasing the Bard).
First appeared in Seeds of Change, ed. John Joseph Adams

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Nobody went home to their Elderfolk while we waited for Niles to come back. That was a rule. If Niles never came back, then we wouldn’t have to. Nobody wanted to see the meanies anyway. They had us Made and then hated us afterwards, which wasn’t fair. All arties know you love the things you Make no matter what. But Elderfolk were just-plains all grown up and they didn’t make any sense at all. Some of the younger arties started to talk about going back, but we older arties who knew Niles better said no, that we’d wait.

Three days passed before Niles came back. It was dark and everyone was sleeping but me, because little Boo’s music itched in my brain. He came in carrying big boxes, and I cried big tears of happy at that. He’d brought some new supplies, and we’d be Making again in no time flat. I watched him for a while, carrying in box after box, and finally I fell asleep. It felt good knowing he was back.

Rated PG. Contains some harsh slang and violence against the system.

Referenced Sites:
The Dispatches of Dr. Roundbottom
Philippa Ballantine’s official site

Comments (87)

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  1. […] the Anthology God, formerly known here as the Slush God, John Joseph Adams)  has gone live over at Escape Pod.  This is a story that was published to mixed reviews.  But I am astounded by the job that […]

  2. […] reading of Jeremiah Tolbert’s Arties are Stupid is live at Escape Pod. Once I started doing it I realised that reading someone else’s story is a completely […]

  3. Ken_K says:

    Between the heavy accent of the presenter and the slang the story is hard to follow. And a not so interesting story at that. I wouldn’t buy any more from this author, Steve.

  4. Brandon Hill says:

    Holy hell… If Ms. Ballantine has a heavy accent the people I talk to on a day to day basis must be from another planet or talking with their ear or something.

  5. Kryson says:

    It’s hard to imagine Philippa Ballantine being described as having a heavy accent. I’ve always been able to understand her perfectly. She has an amazing voice and is one of the best readers I’ve heard thus far.

  6. I just wanted to note that “Arties Aren’t Stupid” first appeared in my anthology, Seeds of Change. In case you’d like to see the story in pixelated form, you can read this story in its entirety on the anthology’s website: http://www.seedsanthology.com. There’s also two other stories on the website you can read for free.

  7. Quonundrum says:

    Ok, adapting to the terminology and the slang takes an extra brain cycle or two – but it is worth it. Tolbert spins a good yarn and Pip’s delivery is splendid.

    The close quote from Heinlien is one of my favorites. Though I am still working on meeting that goal, getting there is half the fun. 😉

  8. This is an excellent story in my opinion, complimented by Philippa Ballantine’s amazing voice. I’d love to hear more stories set in this world. Until then I think I’ll have to go and check out some more of Jeremiah Tolbert’s work.

    Please buy more like this Steve

  9. Oh, I forgot to mention, this is the first story I’ve listened to more than once in one day. I’m up to four listens in fact and I’m thinking of going for a fifth.

  10. Audita Sum says:

    This is my favorite EP story in a while, and I’m not even a big fan of steampunk. Cool slang, cool setting, cool story.

  11. Jennifer says:

    I have to say, with the slang and all it makes more sense reading the text version than listening. Huh, interesting.

  12. Slye says:

    after about 5 minutes into the story I didn’t notice the slang. I do however want to hear more about the Arties, Braniacks, ThickNecks, Melodies, PencilPushers, Nimbles, Fruties, and all the other specialties…

    Great Story!

  13. The Character names and unique slang gave it a 1920s-ish vibe, even though it was set in a post-apocalyptic world. I agree with Alanfromtheuk about wanting to hear more stories set in this world; many intriguing, and unanswered questions.

    Oh, and Ken_K, not nice, not nice at all. “if you don’t have anything nice to say…”

  14. Scooter says:

    There have been some previous EP stories where the combination of invented slang and the accent of the reader didn’t work so well, but this was definitely not one of those cases. Ms. Ballantine’s reading added a lot to the story and I don’t think that I would have enjoyed it as much in just text. An EP story has to work well in audio and this reading of this text really hit it out of the park for me.

  15. SFEley says:

    JJA: I’m very sorry about the attribution omission. I’d meant to shout out the anthology in the intro and had a brain failure. Just added a link in the Web entry here, and I’ll make up for it in a couple of weeks.

  16. norm says:

    Maybe I didn’t work hard enough to enjoy the story, but I found myself confused. I got most of the slang, but didn’t understand the set-up of the world. Some seemed able to put that aside and enjoy the story. I couldn’t. I personally prefer stories which fall into place without effort in my mind. This seemed like a puzzle one had to put together. Seems like I’m in the minority in not enjoying the piece. It seems all the steampunk I’ve heard has a similar plot: group of outcasts rebell against authority.

  17. Ken_K says:

    R. Schuyler Devin said:

    “Oh, and Ken_K, not nice, not nice at all. ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say…’ ”

    My comments weren’t meant to be nice. They were intended as honest feedback.

  18. George says:

    I just finished wiping my eyes. This is the most moving story I’ve heard in a long time. The unanswered questions cause so many thoughts of what might have caused this world, it makes me even more appreciative of what we have even now.

    Beautifully crafted, and superbly read.

  19. SFEley says:

    For the record: Nothing wrong with Ken_K’s original comment. We appreciate all honest opinions, positive or negative. Insults against people are out of line and may get moderated, but that wasn’t the case here.

  20. scatterbrain says:

    Okay. It’s an anti-authoritarian story about a group of funky, sub-cultural, anarcho-individualist street artists who must battle an army of metal bastards in a Jeff Noonish dystopia while genetically engineering things and using the bare minimum of slang for the story to be classified under the Wikipedia section “Literature that uses a fictional language.”

    The conclusion: Good, good, but not great, not great.

  21. Brave Space Monkey says:

    As I listened to the story (the best in sometime) a world opened up to me. I notice I had stopped working on our budget (quickbooks) and was just enjoying the story. The world of the Arties unfolded with colors and shapes and detail filled in by my one mind.

    This is why I started to listen to EscapePod; This is the story I’ve needed, to remind me of why still listen to EscapePod.

  22. TerminusVox says:

    I liked this story top to bottom. I didn’t get to finish it yesterday on my commute home so I queued it up from the top first thing this morning. While I agree in some cases slang &/or jargon can impede understanding I found all of the slang terminology here easily digested. Arties? Brainiacs? ThickNecks? TinMen? These are softballs lobbed directly over the plate. I hope it’s not just me that’s able to simply listen to stories and absorb content & meaning. That would be a sad world to live in.

  23. Alina says:

    Easily one of my favorite stories. It took me a little while to step into the rhythm of her voice and the new terminology, but once I did it was a world I did not want to leave behind. The story described very little of how these characters actually looked; however the slang words instinctually created images in my mind attached to each character’s purpose, almost rendering it as a nonessential element. Because of this, the slang took on a natural sound, like the word “dude.” Maybe because I am still a “youth” but the words “artie”and “thicknecks” could easily come of my tongue. Actually, I think I will attempt to make the word “artie” part of my social group’s lexicon, especially since I am an art major.

  24. Howie Feltersnatch says:

    This is the first escapepod story ever (and I’ve listed to every one–even Cory Doctorow’s lethally boring dreck) that I gave up on.

    If you’re going to run a story that uses oodles of unfamiliar slang (and you really shouldn’t–in “Clockwork Orange” it was fine, but if your name isn’t Anthony Burgess, then you need to leave the Nadsat clones alone), then for Bob’s sake get someone who actually speaks English. This means either the RP version of English English, or flat Midwestern American. No Southern drawls, no cockney, no vowel-mutilating Australian.

    The spoken word is not the place to mix constructed slang and weird accents. When I have to listen to sentences like, “Nahls and his bumbetch took thee-air newbeuddies’ doozingers to the thicknicks mitelkens whoile the tinmin hed dirickshuns,” I gotta pause after every sentence to work out what was a mangled English word and what was slang. Not cool.

  25. Howie Feltersnatch says:

    Actually, this story reminded me of this:


  26. Michael says:

    “Actually speaks English”? From one viewpoint, that would exclude Americans. If someone were to take away my Middle Atlantic drawl and replace it with Pip’s EnnZed clarity, I’d consider myself to hve come out ahead.

  27. P.C. Haring says:

    This story was a lot of fun. On the surface the terminology took some getting used to, but in the classic writing cliche of “show don’t tell” it made a lot of sense to be dropped right in. I was multitasking while listening to this (as I often do while listening to podcasts) and had no problem following the story. I thought Ms. Ballantine’s narration was excellent and that she was well chosen for this piece.

  28. Indiana Jim says:

    Howie Feltersnatch.

    If that is your rreeaalllll name…

    You’re a jerk.

    That’s honest feedback.

    Steve, can I re-record this in Cockney or Southern drawl?

  29. Howie Feltersnatch says:

    I freely admit to being a jerk, Indiana Jim. But I stand by what I said. When the narrator says “tinmin” and I have to try to figure out if that means “ten men” or “tin men” or is itself just some made up slang word “tinmin,” I lose track of what gets said next. I’m trying to listen to this as I walk to work, and it’s hard to try to avoid stepping on bums AND fiddle with the iPod’s controls while I’m trying to decipher slang rendered in an unusual accent.

    Perhaps on the page this is a great story. The page removes any ambiguity due to the narrator, allowing me to instantly see what’s slang. But when spoken, I have to deconflict mispronunciation and slang. I would definitely not choose a reader with a strong accent to read a slang-filled story.

    And I think the xkcd cartoon is spot on. Making up words can pay off occasionally, as Burgess and Tolkein have shown. But generally, it fails. It’s an annoying literary flourish that is too often overused.

    And finally, yes that is my real name. I come from a proud line of Feltersnatches. My father? Feltersnatch. My grandfather? Feltersnatch. Even my great-grandfather–Feltersnatch. I have enough trouble with the name in my chosen profession (I’m an OB/GYN), I’d rather not have you making fun of it.

  30. Brave Space Monkey says:

    Howie Feltersnatch feeling brave from behind your keyboard are you? Look its clear you are likely in your early teens from your comic choice. We understand you’re trying to make a point, but your tone is all wrong, and because of it your point is completely lost. You’re so busy being a jerk, because you think it makes you sound smart, that you haven’t notice that no one likes you enough to consider what you are try to say. You’ve labeled yourself a “jerk” and no one wants to deal with you…

    I for the record agree with the others, Philippa was a prefect match for the piece. Well read.

  31. Natalie says:

    I find it interesting that some are dwelling on the accent. I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinions about works of art and that this particular narration may not have worked for them. That’s fine. However, to insinuate that just because the narrator has an accent you may be unfamiliar with is no excuse to insult said accent (and those that speak with that accent). Remember, many people in this world would consider your accent as “unusual” even as a native English speaker. Please show a little respect to those that are different from yourself and what you consider “normal”.

    As for my thoughts on the story… I thought it was alright even though it was a good story and narration. However, despite my personal tastes, I think the whole package had a nice atmosphere creating an effective presentation.

  32. Grant Stone says:

    Howie: RP? Really? What is this – the 1930’s England where everybody played cricket and smoked pipes and didn’t actually exist?
    And dude, Midwestern isnt’ a flat accent any more than any other accent is. Your bias is showing.

    Most people on the planet deal with a large number of accents (and languages) every day it’s something I like to call talking to people who aren’t exactly the same as you.

  33. Howie Feltersnatch says:

    Here’s the thing, Natalie. If your accent results in phonemes that are supposed to be distinct sounding the same, there’s a problem. For me, the first syllable of the word “accent” is pronounced entirely different than the first syllable of “ichthyology.” There’s a good reason for this–the vowels are completely different. This is not true for an Australian, who would pronounce “accent” as “ick-sint”.

    Same thing with Texans being unable to distinguish between “oil” and “awl.” They’re two different words, composed of two entirely different vowel sounds.

    This sort of morphological contraction is not compatible with narrating a story composed of slang. I can’t understand the slang if I can’t understand your accent.

  34. Bingorage says:

    I hope that the author continues to expand this universe. I would sincerely like to know how such a society could develop; to be so cruel as to engineer “arties” that begin to physically ache if they cannot create, and then destroy everything that they make. Perverse.

  35. Indiana Jim says:


    Your analysis has some merit.

    As well your admission to some jerk-like behavior.

    Thank you for actually stating what you think in a more clear fashion.

    I would agree with your sentiment on made-up words. I’m sure it can be jarring to hear strange words in Pip’s accent. I would likely suffer from similar difficulty.

    However, it would seem your opinion is neither widely held nor agreed with by the others in this comment thread.

    Let it go.

  36. At the risk into a raging torrent of muck…

    All accents have homophonetic dipthongs. We tend not to get confused by the ones we’re accustomed to. If you’re an American, when was the last time you got confused when someone said “how ya been?” Probably never. Someone who speaks RP or Liverpool (who’d never had exposure to American accents) might easily hear “how is your garbage receptacle?” since, in Britain, it’s not a trash can, it’s a “bin” and there when your state of being is inqured after, it’s pronouned “bean.”

    Dumping on someone becuase their homophonetic dipthongs are different from yours is tacky. Doing it at great length as if it were a meaningful criticism of the reader is…well, something beyond tacky.

    The story, on the other hand, I need to give another listen to. On first pass, I enjoyed it middlingly, but at the end something was tugging at me about it. It’s that kind of something that I suspect might knock me over on a second listen, like my favorite ever Escape Pod episode “Impossible Dreams.”

    Lovely job on the read, Pip. Thanks for buying the story, Steve – lots of fun. 🙂


  37. BristolBob says:

    Amusing how some Americans assume that the way they speak is the default setting. This little thing called the internet has a bit more reach than the confines of the USA, and the rest of the world somehow manages to untangle your accents. The thing I love about science fiction is the ability to outside the ordinary and my everyday experiences, something ‘Howie’ might want to consider.
    I for one enjoyed the story and Ms Ballantine’s reading. The slang took some getting used to, but at least had some logic behind it. No more difficult than understanding teenagers these days.

  38. Howie Feltersnatch says:

    I’m not dumping on the reader’s accent. I’m griping about combining that particular accent with a story involving lots of slang.

    My favorite EP episode of all time is “Connie, Maybe” which is read in a rather ludicrous accent. But it fits perfectly. And there’s no slang involved.

    I grant you that standard American English contains some anomalous homophones: “been” and “bin” are usually the same, but “keen” and “kin,” “seen” and “sin”, “teen” and “tin” etc. are not. But the problem with using a NZ accent is a consistent homophonic shift. “Hat” and “hit”, “cat” and “kit”, “bat” and “bit” sound nearly identical, because the short a and i sounds have essentially merged. It’s a fine accent. I don’t mind listening to it. But it’s unnecessarily confounding when used in a story with so much artificial slang.

  39. BristolBob says:

    Confounding for you Howie. I now understand your personal problems with it, but perhaps you shouldn’t have started your comments with the inflamatory ‘get someone who actually speaks English’ bit. Because in that case Steve should only get one of us ‘proper English’ people to read the stories. And what a sad stunted world that would be.

  40. Me says:

    Well, actually, the readers would have to be using Received Pronounciation (i.e. proper ‘proper English’) and none of these weird colony versions discussed so far.

    (Yes, I am keeping my tongue in cheek)

    I understood the reader fine and I’m not North American or from NZ or England.

  41. Grant Stone says:

    And if we want narrators who do use Received Pronounciation, that’s less than 3% of the British population. The BBC have been phasing it out since the fifties.

    Ironically, RP persisted on New Zealand radio for at least two decades after that…

  42. TerminusVox says:

    I’m from a region of the US that has a regrettable reputation for poorly understood accents. Despite being native to this fair corner of the States I’ve been mistaken for a visitor or transplant. But here’s the thing; I love the English language warts & all. I’m delighted to hear the way the other colonies (and for that matter England herself) “live in” the language. Any group or region or people that can take a Germanic language and make it beautiful will always have a warm spot in my heart.

  43. Steve Eley says:

    Okay. Folks. Opinions have been strongly stated, and that’s fine. Some people liked this narration very much; some people didn’t very much. Clarity is in the ear of the beholder.

    Howie, you’ve made your point. Now stop making it. Everyone else, stop piling on Howie. If this goes on I’m going to start moderating comments. And that makes me grumpy.

  44. Odin says:

    Fantastic story. Truly fantastic. This is the kind of science fiction that causes me to remember why I am a science fiction junkie in the first place. Mr. Tolbert, I will be looking for more of your work and looking forward to your next Escapepod submission. Ms. Ballantine, thank you. Your reading was exemplary and added much to my visualization of the story. I cannot speak for everyone, but I live in an area that most of the people do not sound like the folks I grew up next to. Sometimes I must make an effort to understand them, and in doing so perhaps I more truly listen. Many people in the U.S., which I am a proud resident of, I think tend to feel like everyone should sound like “we” do, when in fact there are so many regional dialects as to make that an erroneous statement to begin with. Again, great narrative. I can appreciate those that turned it off quickly, that is a personal choice. However, I do not understand the need to attack or defend someone on the basis of something they can’t, in all liklihood, do anything about.

    Mr. Tolbert, write more like this. Quickly. Please.


  45. Brave Space Monkey says:

    After re-listen to the story (it get only better.) I’m thinking “Niles” is more important to the world than I thought at first listen. I really would like to read more about their world.

  46. Exiled in Seattle says:

    Not really agreeing with most of what Howie had to say, I would agree that I had difficulty listening to this piece with the combination of slang and accent. I generally don’t have a problem listening to accents, I’m actually a fan of PJ’s other podcasts, but for me it took too much concentration to really be able to listen to this story and I couldn’t follow what was going on unless I stopped everything else. I would make it 10-15 minutes in before realizing I had no idea what was going on and would have to rewind. After the 3rd time I just gave up.

  47. ADerksen says:

    I read this in print long before I listened to it here on EscapePod, and at the time of reading, I’d never have made the “little street urchins from Oliver” connection that Ms. Ballantine’s refreshing voice provided. It was interesting how her voice changed all of this imagery in my head from the “streamlined future gone awry” version of science-fiction to the “grubby Victorian anachrotech”. Amusing. I like both versions of the world, but amazing how it takes as little as an accent to suddenly slant my perceptual shift on the Universe.

  48. Mike G says:

    I didn’t have any problem with the accent, in fact I thought it was intriguing in a 1920’s radio announcer sort of way, as one other commenter mentioned. I thought the different character types were interesting, although it was somewhat difficult to keep everything straight. But still a fresh and original tale.

  49. SethW says:

    I loved the story and the way the universe was opened up through dialogue. I found myself flashing back to Dhalgren which I haven’t read or thought about in years.

  50. DrCrisp says:

    J. Daniel Sawyer: I resent the implication that I have ever had any “homophonetic dipthongs”. I have always liked women all of my life and never had a homophonetic moment in my life. And the term “dipthong” really should come with an R warning before using it in a public website. Imagine how many dips you have insulted with such a phrase. I personally find the thought of a dip wearing a thong in public revolting.

  51. DrCrisp says:

    When you read science fiction, you want to go not just to foreign lands but alien lands; where the rules are different. Half the fun is getting grounded into the new reality, accepting it and seeing how the story works in that new reality. Thats the power of science fiction; the story is the “figure”, the new world is the “ground” of the art. While our conscious mind follows the story/figure part, the world/ground is imprinted into our subconscious. And it makes it all the more powerful of a genre.

  52. IFC says:

    Like Cinderella Suicide before it—my favorite EP story—it took me a while to get used to the reader’s accent. Admittedly, I’m not particularly familiar with the NZ English accent, and I would have to say that I’m rather conflicted. Is it my responsibility to be familiar with its particular inflections, or should Mr. Eley choose a reader with an American accent for stories with difficult slang. I don’t really have the answer, but I think we’d be kidding ourselves if we thought that this podcast didn’t reach beyond the US borders.

    As an aside, I can’t believe nobody noted the timeliness of this story. Seems likes playing god and creating creatures is all the rage these days. Ever heard of a little game called Spore? I really liked how the story treated the creating of life as art. Even though the Brainiacs created the means by which life to be made, it was the artists who actually made it. That was the most novel aspect of this story for me.

  53. First things first, Steve, for the love of Khersis, don’t combine jargon-heavy prose with strong accents!

    That said, this one wasn’t too bad- the Kiwi twang actually suited the argot pretty well once I got used to it. And the story was decent, too. Interesting to think about those born into a technology-sterilized world using that same technology to go back in the other direction. Clever.

    And yes, I did note the timeliness of this story wrt popular culture- Pokemon, Spore, etc; not to mention issues of urban artspace reclamation (otherwise known as vandalism).

    I totally want one of those genefacture kits, where can I get one?

  54. Oops, sorry… didn’t see the prior admonishment about harping on the narration. Guess you got the point already, =P

  55. Raving_Lunatic says:

    Personally, i disliked it for the first five minutes and then loved it simply for categorizing human beings into different groups and allegiances, and liked it for showing us its “world”. The plot wasn’t bad either, and I really didn’t see anything wrong with the narration. The slang gave me more trouble though.

  56. […] For the First Queen and the nay-sayers at Escape Pod! […]

  57. Brian Hunt says:

    This story rocked and had a good message(especially in this time of elections) that those in power do not give it up easily. as far as the use of Pip and her accent…..we all need a little kiwi in our diet…

  58. Milo says:

    I don’t think this could ever have worked if the reader had an American accent. I think one of my favorite aspects was the minimalism in the description in places; my imagination went wild when given the word “Tinmen.”

  59. Old Man Parker says:

    Me an arty. Me like story. Me not stoopid.

  60. Blaine Boy says:

    Who said the artists can’t think linearly? Who said the thinkers can’t make art? Who says the meat-head isn’t capable of thought? Who ever dared to say that one-type of thinker had to stick to that type of thinking? (Not accusing anyone, just trying to make a point.)

    I won’t ever bother going near the issue of accents and narration except for this little comment: I understood it perfectly, even being an American, I have no idea what you people are talking about.

    I actually have a comment on Mr. Stephen Eley’s control of the situation that I think you might like (comment #43). (Special emphasis on the “might.”) After reading his statement this image popped into my mind (this also includes later commentors):

    (Beowulf-esque hall) In the middle of the hall is a rabble of commoners each of the two general opinions have gathered their followers and are on either side of a bench arguing and generally causing a ruckus shouting at each other. Enter King Eley. Slamming aside the hall-doors enters the great king covered in his heavy fur robes. (Think Viking-lord and you get it.) He brandishes his Sword of Moderation and all fall silent. The few onlookers wait for one of the Opinionated to make a sound or a movement and watch as their heads roll to the ground. Exiled in Seattle makes pointing motions to the other side of the table but otherwise does nothing. Nev the Deranged, enters the hall and sits down to speak but looks over at the great King Eley and quickly shuts his mouth. All is silent in the hall again…for now.

    I think I have a little too much free time on my hands if I can write a comment such as this one. But I have so much fun writing them, I can’t help myself.

    Yours faithfully,
    the Blaine Boy

  61. Blaine Boy says:

    On my previous comment: Mr. Eley, I am not implying that you are dictatorial in any sense of the word. I just happen to have an over-active imagination and I thought someone might appreciate. (I like to play to any crowd I can get which often ends up not working.) I apologize if this seems less than humorous in any way. If I have offended you, please feel free to tell me and I will try to refrain from making further comments such as the one posted above. Thank you for your time.

    Your faithfully,
    the Blaine Boy

  62. George says:

    Whoa – what’s the big fuss about accents? The story is written and narrated in English. So the accent is not North American. So what?

    Make an effort people. I am shocked that this is even an issue to anyone interested in SF. Do you think that if orange-skinned hexapods flew in from Arcturus they would speak with the same accent you do?

    Their methods of communication might not even involve speech. If your enjoyment of a story depends on it being spoon-fed to you (i.e. no slang to figure out) and it being read in your accent, then I guess you still believe the earth is flat and is at the centre of the universe.

    Such provincial thinking is unbecoming. I urge in the immortal words of George Clinton: “Free your mind, your ass[es] will follow.”

    Mr Eley, Mr. Tolbert, Ms. Ballantine: keep up the great work!

  63. A particularly stupid artie says:

    OK, so English isn’t my first language. In fact, it’s fourth. So I have no idea what this story was about, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. While the newfangled wordslangy thingies went totally over my head and made me awfully confused, the reading and accent were so pleasant and soothing that I just let it flow over me and take me to a blissful place, far away from the rainy and dark bus stop I spent way too long on.

    More readers from down under, please!

  64. madjo says:

    I’d sell off body-parts (not necessarily my own :P), for a chance to hear Pip read from the dictionary or from the phonebook… 🙂

    So I just queued up this story in my mp3-player for my commute tomorrow. 🙂

  65. I really enjoyed this story. By the end, I really had a good understanding of the setting and what was going on. It was an intriguing premise and I really enjoyed the reading.

    I’m not sure how anyone could have been confused by the accent. I can understand being confused by the new lingo, but it was clear what was being said. As for the quality of the voice, no offense to the other talented readers on Escape Pod, but this is the best so far in my opinion.

  66. Brave Space Monkey says:


    Oh wait… (does anyone do that anymore?)

    This story must have gotten to people. We’re still posting on it while there is a new story already in the wilds of the Inter-web. With only a few comments posted on it.

    Maybe the measure of a story is the number of people that get fired up enough to post about it (good or bad)?

    PS, Arties aren’t stupid…

  67. valjean24601 says:

    Not Bad. I had trouble understanding what Phillipa was saying. Also I thought it was unrealistic how the Arties were able to create creatures so easily. Besides this it was a good story.

  68. Blaine Boy says:

    Sorry for filling up all this space, but I just really want to say this. Specialization is necessary not just intellectually but also athletically. Almost every sport is based types of specializations. Between sports, positions, and even teams there are all sorts of specializations. I have learned from experience that it pays to specialize in a sport ( unless you are really talented and can play several sports/ positions well.) I have been jumping sports every few years and I realized how much better off if I had just stuck to one sport and just kept going with it. Alright, then. I hope I haven’t wasted too much of your commenting room and reading time. I hope I don’t have to take up more of it (until the next story of course.)

    Yours faithfully,
    the Blaine Boy

  69. HTI says:

    I must say I like Phillipas accent very mutch. In Ireland we do sprout some funny accent of our own but I think the NZ one is just so much more entertaining to listen to. I guess it boils down to what kind of local accents you have weather you have trouble understanding the narrator of this story or not.
    As for the specialization discussion here if the baseknowledge is brought enough it is good and needed but if the basis is not there it will be detrimental in the end.

  70. madjo says:

    Specialisation has its pros and cons.

    Knowing a little from a lot of subjects can be enough in some cases, but in others it’s better to know a lot from a few subjects.

    For my work, for instance I do need to specialize (I’m a software test engineer), because it is such a broad field that knowing enough from a lot of relevant subjects is quite hard.

    Besides that, I’d rather not have a dentist cut my hair. Similar for hair dressers checking my teeth.
    Some specialisation is necessary.

  71. cold ethel says:

    good story. good commentary. thx.

  72. DrCrisp says:

    Blaine Boy (Comment #60)

    (Beowulf-esque hall) Where’s Angelina Jolie?

  73. I would just like to comment that, as a general rule, I LIKE accents, whether Brit or Aussie or Kiwi or Gaelic or North Carolinian, or whatever. And, upon reflection, I liked this particular accent paired with this particular story.

    I think I just had a knee-jerk reaction based on that one story about… whatever the hell it was about, I still don’t know… that featured the dual-untintelligibility-factor of both accent and jargon.

    So, I guess what I’m really saying is, “Thanks, Steve, for doing a better job picking a narrator we could understand than in the past.”

    Aaaand, I’m done now.

  74. Lucianno says:

    Excellent story. Not to pile on the already lengthy discussion about accents and slang, but I have to say that this one wasn’t too bad. The slang was pretty straightforward- it wasn’t any worse than Ender’s Game (which it reminded me of), anyway. The accent wasn’t either. In fact, the only story where I actually had to stop listening because I had no clue what was going on was Cinderella Suicide. This was nowhere near that.

  75. amc says:

    I don’t mind, and often enjoy, having to get accustomed to an accent as a person reads a story. But to pair that choice of a heavy-accented narrator with a story so laden with completely new words (essential to the plot) was a mistake, imo. If I were the author of the story I’d be pretty frustrated with Stephen’s choice. Me, I had to turn it off after 10 minutes of understanding only about 50% of the story and realizing it wasn’t going to get any better. The story sounded great, though, so I’m hoping to find the text version.

  76. SF Fangirl says:

    I found this an okay, merely good story. Nothing great. I had no problem with the accent. It did take me a bit to be able to get the slang. I have to say for a while I thought “artie” refered to artificial like a created being. Then I wasn’t positive it didn’t until I gathered that the brainiacs and thicknecks were created the same way. There were too many unanswered questions about the universe to take this story to a higher level for me. Throughout the whole story I was puzzling out the universe. I don’t mind that, but prefer it to end before the middle of the story. What little was explained didn’t make sense to me. Why create children to allow them to run wild? Why create kids who need to create and not allow them to and go so far as to destroy their creations when it physically hurts them? The universe didn’t hold together with the little info we got.

  77. Azure says:

    I enjoyed this story. I must admit that the combination of accent and new words confused me for a few moments, but I just opened my mind up to understanding and it was good. I think far too often people have their minds closed to understanding and instead get frustrated and critical.

    Anywho, after I figured out the Universe, I quite liked this story. It was touching and fun. Me likey the arties & harmony.

  78. oldguypaul says:

    I used to work in the pokey pokey and really enjoyed the great reading of Pip in this story. The slang was great and the NZ lilt made for a great combination. More please Steve.

  79. wyrdo says:

    wow, I could listen to this narrator read the phone book. Story was not bad too.

  80. xena says:

    Not my favorite. I am rarely tempted to stop listening to escape pods before the end, but I nearly didn’t finish this one through. It just didn’t pull me in. Not due to the reader’s accent, that’s actually what kept me listening.

  81. Calculating... says:

    i loved that even within their own clique there were levels to which people belonged.

    its scared me though cause that is what our future is. genetic alterations at birth will create a super race of humans, specialized for certain tasks.

    scary stuff

  82. amc says:

    To follow up from my previous comment, I went to Amazon and purchased the anthology (Seeds of Change) in which this story appears. Great tale, and many other wonderful stories in the book. Highly recommended.

  83. […] Pod has recently podcast two of the stories from Seeds of Change: Arties Aren’t Stupid by Jeremiah Tolbert and Resistance by Tobias S. Buckell. Go give them a listen! November 5, 2008 | Filed Under News […]

  84. […] “arties” in Jeremiah Tolbert’s “Arties Aren’t Stupid” are presumably artificial beings, rather than the result of some advanced genetic […]

  85. […] During today’s run, I listed to Adventures in SciFi Publishing #69 (Tom Lloyd) and part of Escape Pod #179 (”Arties Aren’t Stupid”).  Earlier this week, I listened to I Should Be Writing #105 (welcome back, Mur!) and Accident Hash […]

  86. valjean24601 says:

    I can’t get enough of this story. The slang and the tone of the piece made me want to here more. I was a little nervous when I heard the from New Zealand. Once when this happened, I couldn’t understand what the person was saying, but with this it worked perfectly with the story. This story compelled me to read a Clockwork Orange, which is a good book despite the confusing slang words.

  87. […] Listen to the audio version at Escape Pod. VN:F [1.7.5_995]please wait…Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast) Read the Story […]