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EP189: The Botox School of Acting

By Liz Shannon Miller.
Read by Dani Cutler (of Truth Seekers).

Guest Host: Jeffrey R. DeRego

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Only the best gain acceptance. Harry cannot be bought. Twice a year,
he attends the fashion shows, looking for an unknown to transform, but
most of the time they come to him — the beautiful, the elegant, the
desperate. They plead with him, their eyes containing all the emotion
their faces cannot show. The beauties who want to be brilliant, who
want to move beyond the limitations of their appearance. Who want to
act.

“Boxtresses”, people call his students, and Harry doesn’t bother to
correct the gender assumption, because his class for actors is still
ostensibly secret. No one wants to believe that action heroes need to
avoid aging. It’s their love interests who need to stay fresh.

Rated PG. Contains profanity and shallow motivations.

Comments (24)

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  1. Ed from Texas says:

    While this story had an interesting premise and raises some good questions, the execution of the narrative was pretty poor and well below what I’ve been used to from Escape Pod. It’s approach was as superficial as the students of the school. The logical inconsistencies hurt the flow as well. Ultimately, the story really couldn’t decide what it wanted to be about and ends up as a rambling stream of consciousness.

  2. davetopper says:

    I thought it was good and easy to follow. Given that it is an audio book the characters were well portrayed.

  3. Vance M. says:

    My first reaction after listening was “Meh.” I didn’t see the point by the end, felt the characters were boring or superficial (which they may have been written that way on purpose) and I don’t feel the ending had a satisfying or interesting conclusion. Not one of the worst Escape Pod stories, but one that should have been skipped.

  4. scatterbrain says:

    A bleak, Ballardian near future where individuality and natural beauty are systimatically crushed, while the world is captivated by the hit sitcom “Fuck Your Mother”.

    Did I write this story…?

  5. I thought that everything in the story was already happening NOW. So for me it was just a retelling of some brainwashed people daily lives.

  6. Nosmo King says:

    A great big “Meh.” for the story. And I question the decision to use a narrator who appears to be suffering some nasal difficulties.

  7. Blaine Boy says:

    This is the warped brainchild of Aldous Huxley’s brainchild Brave New World. It pulled out the idea that we would rather give up individuality for superficial “perfection”. (“Be myself and miserable.” -Brave New World)

    Sincerely,
    The Blaine Boy

  8. logopetria says:

    I was surprised when the story finished, as it seemed by that point to have done just enough set-up to launch into a potentially interesting pay-off, which unfortunately never appeared. All kinds of issues had been put in play, both in the personal story and elsewhere, and another few minutes of development might have brought things to a satisfying conclusion (or perhaps an uncomfortable Vonnegutian twist!) But just before any of these bubbles can get near the surface, the story just deflates and stops. An opportunity missed.

  9. john says:

    normally I let the Escape Pod story files stick around on my hard drive. I went out of my way to make sure this one was deleted.

  10. Megatron0016 says:

    I’m really hoping the stories pick up again soon. This one and the one prior just weren’t that interesting, especially compared to where things left of before the hiatus with summer in paris light from the sky which was fantastic.

  11. Interesting story, beautiful writing. I enjoyed it. Nice physical descriptions (which actually were important to the story). Tree-trunk of a face….

    It’s hard to end this kind of story though (but good closing line). I have to wonder which perspective is more important: Harry’s or the actor’s.

    In these kinds of stories, something usually goes awry (but not in this case). Good recording too.

  12. besucher says:

    Unfortunately, I didn’t like this one. I didn’t feel it like a real story, altough the basic idea was kinda good.

  13. besucher says:

    Ooops, I found a little bug on the post: if you try to click on the name of the author (Liz Shannon Miller), you will be directed to the site of the previous author’s (Genevieve Valentine).

  14. no name says:

    thanks to every one at escape artists for doing it again, great job, great story, I will think all day about the issues rasied here,
    good job !!

  15. Ogion The Silent says:

    Was there one original idea in this entire story? One thing we haven’t heard a million times before? Superficiality – corruption – commercialisation yadda, yadda, yadda. This is straight out of “Build your own Science Fiction dystopia vol. 1″ except that the author forgot to include the ubiquitous recreational drug use. Or the plot.

  16. botox says:

    Story was interesting and informative as well. Great talent!

  17. vbg says:

    “Each more beautiful than the next”? So the women were decreasingly beautiful? Are these stories actually edited, Steve, or do you just put them up as submitted?

  18. jennyM says:

    This was a nice idea or two and a collection of good one-liners looking for a story. Lacking plot drive, it makes the reader focus more closely on the details, but they don’t quite hold up on their own. Harry’s motivation is muddled and the problem the story present him with is vague and non-compelling. When his wife questions him (and already I’ve forgotten what about), we’re told that it causes him to throw himself into work to avoid her; but, firstly the question wasn’t particularly penetrating, and secondly Harry did not actually get the significance of it: the author told us it was important in the narrative. But because by then exposition has taken over, the author fails to notice that her characters are not experiencing directly what the narrative is telling us.

    I also felt the central idea was not really strong enough to support a whole story. It’s funny enough, as an off-the-hip idea. But I’d have been more engrossed if a twist had been added to the premise, e.g. that future botox is capable of adding too much expression to people’s faces, so they have to fight to control over-reacting, rather than predictably struggling with lack of mobility. As it is, the story starts off smart and funny but, as the plot fails to appear, the humour becomes thinner and the characters limper.

    Some of the writing was a little lazy. ‘Boxtresses’ is just not funny. And there was at least one Jordan-esque clunker: ‘gallery of women, each more beautiful than the one before’ or some such.

    Sorry to sound negative. I thought a lot of this story was funny and diverting. It just needs a point.

    JennyM

  19. LaShawn says:

    I was surprised when the story ended where it did. I was expecting more. It felt like the story was setting up for some big payoff and it ended just before it happened. Too bad. I would have loved to learn more about the granddaughter, or the wife, for that matter.

  20. […] Escape Pod begins with Liz Shannon Miller’s “The Botox School of Acting” (read by Dani Cutler). It’s a character story, about a man who trains young and […]

  21. Steve says:

    I wanted to like this story but it just went nowhere… what exactly was it about, why should I care? Is this supposed to be science fiction because of the Botox? No wonder or imagination here at all, very disappointing.

  22. Tim says:

    Not the worst out there but the story was weak and the voice work was not only extremely amateurish but also quite hard on the ears.

  23. Christopher Witt says:

    This was a classic story about Native American’s constant struggle to reclaim (or retain) their identity. I respect the restraint used to mention the (obvious) casinos. Unlike others on the thread, I enjoyed how the tribe attempted to keep their traditions alive – the long horse ride to get to the rocket port – in the face of technology…like the rocket port.

    I won’t go into detail about the implications of what makes a man – those were obvious – and well done.

    And as far as the narration – I thought it was matched perfectly with the story. I don’t think I would have like it as much if I had read it myself. The narration really made it for me.

    Thanks for this one. I know by reading the other posts that a lot of us didn’t like it – I did. A Lot.

  24. Thanks for the online stream.