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Episode 198: N-words

By Ted Kosmatka
Read by Kim The Comic Book Goddess

First appeared in Seeds of Change, 2008.

They came from test tubes. They came pale as ghosts with eyes as blue-white as glacier ice. They came first out of Korea.

I try to picture David’s face in my head, but I can’t. They’ve told me this is temporary—a kind of shock that happens sometimes when you’ve seen a person die that way. Although I try to picture David’s face, it’s only his pale eyes I can see.

My sister squeezes my hand in the back of the limo. “It’s almost over,” she says. Up the road, against the long, wrought iron railing, the protestors grow excited as our procession approaches. They’re standing in the snow on both sides of the cemetery gates, men and women wearing hats and gloves and looks of righteous indignation, carrying signs I refuse to read.

Rated PG-13. Contains racism and genetic engineering.

Comments (55)

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  1. Thras says:

    I couldn’t listen to it. I got part way through. The kids are pale, red-haired, I’m assuming that they’re Neanderthals?

    Anyway, what exactly is the point of writing a story about how evil hate is as an excuse to rant about how crazy religious people are? Is there some sort of meta-irony I’m not getting?

  2. Rachel says:

    While I’m against racism, I’m also against heavy-handed stories that can’t execute their themes smartly. (Neanderthal weren’t all red-haired…)

    Also mind-numbing amounts of info dump which distracts from the character’s voice and the story themes. It needs editing. (cutting down.)

    Waaaaaayyyy too long and doesn’t put the listener/reader in the place of the people receiving the racism. Fail. One Act of the non-science fiction story, Driving Miss Daisy or even 1 entry of Anne Frank’s journal did ten times better and didn’t jam it with long histories of hominid evolution. (And my class on Physical Anthropology wasn’t this dull.)

    The outro, did ten times better than the story on the same theme in a much shorter time. Skip the story, listen to the outro.

  3. Scott says:

    Well I really liked this and I thought it was really well written and well read. The back story wasn’t about Neanderthals but about the cloning of them – very relevant to the story.

    Thras, I don’t think you even paid very close attention to the part to which you listened. There was very little religious reference in the story – it was about racism.

    What I liked best about this story was the emotions that we feel from the side of the narrator. Somebody tangetally feeling the racism of the story. To me that is way less heavy handed than a story told by a character whose life revolves around expressing how he/she is the object of racism.

  4. Drea says:

    I almost stopped listening to this story because of the comments and the fuzzy audio, but I’m really glad that I stuck it out. I agree with Scott, and the emotional aspect of the story did make it come to life. I don’t think there was too much back story at all! Both the story and the outro made very good points about racism and sensitivity. Props to the writer and to Alasdair!

  5. Scott says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed it. No surprise that it’s going to generate lots of commentary. More interesting to me was that it wasn’t told through the POV of the person who was the object of the racism, but that of the wife. That gave it more impact somehow.

    Also Kim’s reading was great even if the audio was a tad fuzzy.

  6. Hamiton says:

    This story taught me a lot about myself. I thought I had worked through most of my racial/class/gender privilege issues back when I was first introduced to that field of philosophy (Charles Mills and the like), but now all of a sudden I’m not only racist against neanderthals but I have to work backwards to figure out why I’m racist against neanderthals. That’s the mark of damned good fiction, right there.

    Also: Dude, seriously, comparing this story to a physical anthropology course is like comparing a Physics 101 course with that episode of Star Trek with the half-black half-white aliens.

  7. Jeff says:

    Loved this story! To me, science fiction is at its best when it uses technological “what-ifs” to explore the nature of humanity.

    Big thumbs up to Alasdair for his outro. He hits the nail right on the head.

    As for stories about Neanderthals integrating into Homo Sap society, try Robert J Sawyer’s “Neanderthal Parallax” trilogy of novels. They are outstanding.

  8. Ken_K says:

    Two points:
    First,just read the story, eh? No need for fancy background sounds and other stuff. If it isn’t done well, (and it usually ain’t) they just plain distracting.

    Secondly, heavy handed and thinly veiled propaganda pieces even for a worthwhile view or opinion are a tiresome bore. Drag it out too long and they become tedious and lessen the chance that people will listen all the way to the end. I know I didn’t.

  9. M. says:

    I enjoyed this story very much. Of course it’s anti-racism. The useage of Neanderthals as point reference is an incredibly creative move. Those who’ve never experienced racism first hand would probably view this as too heavy. It’s definitely not. The abject cruelty is stark and broodingly realistic. The emotions carried in narrative are superb. The fear and worry of a mother viewing her son as her son but knowing that the world will view him differently… spot on accuracy there.

    As for not all Neanderthals being gingers, maybe not all were. Same as not all humans are either. It’s called “creative license” for a reason. By the same token, I’d not expect to be “beamed up” any where any time soon either. If red-headedness, or lack thereof is the only point by which one defines a story done “smartly” then some are missing the essence of this work entirely.

    This is a very well crafted work of science fiction. Compelling and thoroughly ejoyable.

  10. The only real reason I liked this story is because I have spent the last couple of weeks thinking about how would people react if we perfected human cloning (and a few other technologies). Same reason why I liked the “Articles of Faith” Story.

    I came too the same conclusion that this author did that people would unequivocally hate them for reasons that they are “not natural”, The parallels with the current gay rights movement wasn’t lost on me. (Funeral Protest = Westborough Baptist Church.)

    The thing I didn’t like about the story, is there was no sense of in fighting between the groups ever mentioned. I have for the last couple of months read a lot of LGBT blogs and listened to a lot of LGBT podcasts and it is very obvious that even within a seemingly (from the outside.) concrete group there is still people who do things to separate them apart.

    Although it was never mentioned I am sure there were Female Neanderthals cloned (since there were 61 Different Genetic Samples mentioned.) It is very likely that there would be some who would look down on David’s marriage from that side like The Narrators Sister did.

  11. DaveNJ says:

    Count me as a decided no on this one. It annoyed me in more ways than one. First and foremost, as others have described, it’s really, really heavy-handed. The story exerts a maximum amount of effort chastising racism, with a little florid hominid evolution interspersed throughout.

    The hard science wore at me, too. Using samples from different neanderthals over spans of hundreds of thousands of years would produced a varied and robust pool of people with very different traits, as opposed to a simplified homogenous group. The whole interbreeding issue is, of course, subject to more scrutiny. The fact that the neanderthal diet and likely digestive system was far more carnivorous than homo sapiens is never addressed, either. It’s more of a simplified version of neanderthal built to fit the story’s desire for its “race” to be one wonderful group.

    And that’s where the real problem lies: the utter simplicity. It’s great in this story how neanderthals are all star athletes, law school applicants, and whatnot. However, I kept wondering throughout what point the author was trying to make here. It reminds me of the old racial convention of the noble savage. This story is, in its underpinnings, still racist itself. The idea that a group needs star athletes or lawyers to be deemed worthy of equal treatment is what stunned me here. We’ve got David, the perfect guy in every way. Peaceful, brave, wise, loved, Stanford-grad, and built like a freight train. What bothers me, though, is the need for this perfection.

    As a member of a minority group constantly praised for its success in the greater scheme of things I hate this kind of subtler racism. It’s still painting with a broad brush, just with good qualities instead of bad ones, and rest assured, bad ones will always follow when this broad painting is allowed. The idea that David has to be so perfect to be worth martyrdom is just so bothersome.

    It’s this kind of thing that really weighs down the story. Neanderthals are treated as odious to some and a racial piggy-bank for society for others. Never are they, pardon the pun, remotely human.

  12. phignewton says:

    oiy! peoples, this is not how its done! If your going to write a story about rascism you need to start by making the differance negligable… like they have stars on their chests… or their half black and half white like a zebra. Dont go making it about different species then us, especialy fine husky specimans who its clear the ladies all got a thing for… interbreeding and threatening the whole homo sapien thing, it causes confusion and unfocused discomfort!

  13. scatterbrain says:

    I first thought this wasn’t going to be very original, Neandathal-cloning already covered by Asimov’s own “The Ugly Little Boy”, but this story was pretty fresh and stands on its own. This story wasn’t about racism par see, but it was more about human attitudes and reminded me a lot of Pohl’s “The Day the Martians Came”.

  14. Jake Webb says:

    This story is not about racism.

    If the ghosts were just another race of humans, then yes, the racism parallels would be fitting and nice and dandy. But they aren’t. They are a different species – faster, stronger, and smarter than almost anything humanity has to offer.

    Racism is unwarranted hatred of a race for no rational reason. But the reactions of humanity in this story are natural. Humanity is being threatened by another species that threatens to outdo us at everything we do and you expect us NOT to put up a fight?

    Racists are people who are, quite plainly, idiotic in comparison to the rest of the world. But in order to be able to come to terms with meeting someone that is genetically superior to you in every way, you have to be incredibly mature, looking at the nature of progress itself instead of looking at yourself. The “racists” in this story aren’t stupid, they’re just not incredibly mature and un-egotistic. They’re average. This reaction is actually quite rational – they’re reacting to an external threat. I know that that’s how I’d feel at first, before realizing the contributions such minds could make to physics, which will last far longer than my lifetime.

    If the author intended for the story to be an allegory for racism, he failed miserably. The world is reacting as it should, but the narrator seems almost too mature – she all too quickly accepts that her species is going extinct. The author tries to condemn the protesters, but it seems to me that their reactions are natural.

    Now, I’m not defending their actions. Their actions were idiotic, but presumably they were fueled by mob mentality. I’m just saying that the story should not pretend to be about racism when it clearly isn’t – the story shows an entirely different scenario. As it has been mentioned here, it’s just a piece of heavy handed propaganda.

    Also, the narration was too slow for my tastes. It seemed like she was trying to add drama to scenes that were really just simple scenes. And that only served to add to the heavy handedness of the piece.

    You want to read good fiction that condemns racism while still being an enjoyable read? Pick up a copy of Huck Finn and read it carefully. Just skip the last 12 or so chapters :)

  15. BR says:

    This is an accomplished author, and it shows in the writing, sentence by sentence. He takes risks with his stories. I believe he would have toned down the science had it been intended for a more generic, mainstream audience. The plot is a classic “what-iffer” but it goes in some dark, in-your-face directions. In other words, it does what good fiction (sci or otherwise) is supposed to do – makes you think while refusing to hold your hand in the process.

  16. yak sox says:

    Hi there,
    I used to listen to Escape Pod back when it first started. I stopped for a few years because there were no commute times that left big chunks of time to listen to podcasts.
    But I moved again, and now there are good chunks for podcasts.

    Been listening for a month or two now. This most recent story was very good I thought.

    It is difficult getting past the inconsistencies in sound quality these days though. I know EP is too much for one person to handle, but I do kind of miss the consistency that came with Steve Ely doing most of the reading.

    I appreciate the work that new folks are doing – I know it’s necessary but it sounds like Alasdair is broadcasting from a small metal cylinder — an escape pod.

  17. Brandon says:

    The title caught my attention and I found the story to be fascinating. Some might find this story to be heavy handed, but I didn’t. I’ve been a neanderthal my whole life and this story spoke to me.

  18. iGregory says:

    Long time listener, first time caller… so to speak:)

    The story was definately listenable. I agree that this was not about racism, but more about the pending destruction of homo sapiens at man’s own hand.

    One thing that I found amusing… the narators states that her son is starting to read at age 2 (almost three) and that he’s ‘gifted’. My own twin sons are both reading quite well and have been since before they were two.

    They are not gifted. They are just children, and children are sponges. If you treat writen language as if it’s another language, they will learn it the same way they learn a language.

    At anyrate, the story was entertaining. I’ve enjoyed all the stories here, and on Podcastle and Pseudopod:) I only wish I had more money to donate:)

    iGregory

  19. Robin Sure says:

    Hmm, another story I’m not too fond of. The reading was a bit too breathy for me to listen too, and that’s a shame. I would have liked to have heard the lot, if only so I could get a good impression of a story which has received such divided thought. However, I did end up skipping to the outro, and while I don’t know if it’s because I’m a fellow Brit, and am more comfortable with the accent, but I much preferred Alasdair’s voice to the usual Steve Eley. Oh well, thank goodness for Pseudopod!

  20. Pablo says:

    @Jake Webb – As it was presented in the story, the Neanderthals could not be called a different species: they were capable of interbreeding.

    The “we’re just fighting back against being outdone by a different species” is the same justification that people of successful minority groups have to listen to as an excuse for racist behavior. That’s pretty much the point of the story.

    Having said that, I also found myself wondering whether my reaction would have been different if, instead of Neanderthals, the minority group had been genetically engineered rich children. (Anyone remember Userpers?)

  21. Gia says:

    I didn’t like this one. What I got out of it was: The Neanderthals are Mary Sues and you hate them just because they’re perfect and you’re jealous and/or evil.
    Not a single Neanderthal did anything wrong and not a single protester was shown to be an otherwise reasonable person. The whole thing was dumbed down and so many variable were ignored.

  22. George says:

    Best Escape Pod story of 2009!!!
    This story is classic science fiction, where are the awards???
    ‘Scuse me while I gush:

    This story takes the best elements of scifi and weaves (slowly but surely) a world that is as real as today’s headlines.

    We humans, all too willing to seek the difference and line up one one side or the other, what sad creatures we are …

    The narration was also very well done, with just the right inflections to convey the complex emotions present in the narrator, though never losing the sadness edged with just the right keenness of smoldering anger that blazes into a climax of righteous anger.

    One gets the impression that this is prologue …

    And even topped off by that excellent closing quote!

    Excellent production – all 55 minutes!

  23. Jennifer says:

    I liked it. I’m not sure why, I can certainly see the flaws in it, but I stuck with it to the end, and that says a lot to me because I am really bad auditorally (er, whatever the appropriate would there would be) and tend to “zone out” on a lot of stories. I stuck with this and was intrigued at the world building. But I’m the sort of dork who loves exposition, and those who do not probably had more issues.

    (To be honest, Alastair gets to me too. He does sound like he’s broadcasting from a pod! I normally love Brit accents, but between him being rather breathy and the echo, he’s not my favorite narrator.)

  24. The Syndicate says:

    I thought the story presented a thought provoking topic in an incredibly creative, if heavy handed manner. What really spoke to me however was the outro. My hat goes off to you Mr. Alasdair.

  25. Nestor says:

    This is actually a really good idea. I couldn’t listen to the whole thing, but I’ll try it agian later.
    http://www.koldcast.tv/video/2384

  26. MasterThief says:

    Good setup, and I did like the mix of the scientific history and present-day narrative, but the ending was off-kilter, and the Neanderthals just seemed a bit… too perfect.

  27. Sternhammer says:

    I really liked this one. I think it’s superficially about racism and hatred, which lends it a fervour and anger, nicely expressed by the narration. Only in the last half does it reveal itself as a story of survival of the fittest told from an interesting angle. Nicely done!

  28. Don says:

    I also liked this one – the narrator’s pace was devilishly slow, every sentence was its own event. I agree, the audio quality here on EP and Pseudopod vary – and it seems that it’s always surrounding Mr. Steward. Misters Phillips and Ely always have crystal clear recordings. But back to the story – I wasn’t konked over the head with the racism lesson, I liked it for the what-if component. If the scientists had but, what, just a few skulls from which to cull DNA, wouldn’t there therefore be little variation in the beings that result?
    Anyway, I liked it. And the “DIE”… Your Turn ending was different.

  29. Amir says:

    OK,

    I loved the story, and the idea behind it, but… I hated the narration. So slow, so quiet… Ghaaaaaaaaaa. That was bad.

    The story though, was really well written, and hence, my first escape-pod commentary.
    Loved it, bad narration and all.

    A.

  30. Sherry says:

    I liked it very much and I’m excited to discuss the story with my children.

    The story grabbed me from the beginning. My big brother was killed in Viet Nam in 1969, when I was 16. Our limo ride was not unlike David’s wife and son’s — people were chanting: “baby killer”. My big brother was 19yo and he was perfect and beautiful and full of life and the future too.

    As a Patriot Guard rider, I’m also acquainted with the Westboro Baptist Church. The Patriot Guard resulted from lessons learned from the Viet Nam war.

    Additionally, I’ve lived in the South during military assignments and I’ve SEEN unreasonable, spitting mad hate in the eyes of otherwise normal appearing people.

    The narration was well done from my perspective as well. Sorrow and rage at injustice has to be controlled over such circumstances. One way to control it would be through very deliberate speaking. Maybe you’d have to have experienced something similar at least once in order to understand.

    This is one of the most memorable stories I’ve heard on Escape Pod.

    Thank you!

  31. Ken Schneyer says:

    I’m utterly blown away. The language is beautifully spare, the images clean and evocative; the passion comes through like a tidal wave. The reader shares the protagonist’s grief and anger.

    Conceptually we’ve seen tropes like this before: the “new” version of humanity outcompetes the old and is subjected to fear-based bigotry. Goes back at least as far as “Methuselah’s Children”, and more recently “Beggars in Spain.” What makes it interesting is the twist on our views of Neanderthals and the science of cloning.

    I disagree with those who call this story “heavy-handed.” I’d call it “moving”.

  32. simon says:

    I don’t get why nobody sees this as actually quite racist.

    surely racism is all about the self-serving delusion that your own genes are better, and that genes somehow count above environment. Doesn’t this story build-in just those type of assumptions?

    The only change to the story needed to really see this is to transpose, which a racist might do subconsciously, your ethnic group for the Neanderthals.

    it also tries to push the race paranoia button, how can they possible take over when their genes are going to be diluted by, what 100000000:1, ludicrous!

    For a story like this that doesn’t push the racist assumptions, and this isn’t original, how about the Neanderthals being smart but with poor social skills, so that they didn’t work together as well as we did.
    In which case you could admire them for being smart, individualistic and more self-reliant than the more communalist Sapiens. As a bonus that would be just horribly confusing for anyone to try to fit into racist assumptions.

    so rather than; no I in team, its no N in team.

  33. Church says:

    Really interesting story, and not, I think, as simplistic as some of the commentators have stated. There’s an direct threat to what we have previously considered ‘humanity’ (tempered by the ‘Cro-Magnon Trash’ perspective of the narrator and her red-headed child.)

    That said, I think that there’s a tipping point for ‘racism’ and that individuals or small groups tend to be tolerated as not being a threat. A few thousand ghosts distributed around the globe would be considered exotics, and eventually blend. Although the story seems to imply that they all end up in the same place? That part confused me.

    Also, fantastic narration (except for that one editing glitch.)

  34. J says:

    That narration was excruciating. The fact that it was overly dramatic and contrived didn’t bother me as much as it was too soft and unbelievably slow.
    I’m sure the story was good but I just couldn’t stay focused on it and had to give up.

  35. buddy66 says:

    “I try to picture David’s face in my head, but I can’t….”

    Lose the “in my head.” That’s just baaaad writing.

    That’s as far as I got.

  36. Paul Fischer says:

    I couldn’t finish it. I got about halfway through hoping it would get better. It was too nice a day to listen to a depressing story wander aimlessly.

    There was way too much back story. The writing was bad and the read made it depressing. This is one of the few times I couldn’t make it through an EP story.

    If I had to use one word to describe this story it would be heavy-handed. OK, that’s 2 words.

  37. Howie Feltersnatch says:

    This story could have been a lot shorter………..All it would have taken was for the author to have not spoken so damned slowly…….And to not have put such long pauses between sentences…….It was annoying.

  38. The story was ok. Not amazing, but not bad.

    This comment is just to say that while I like Alasdair well enough, I get him regularly on PP.

    I tune in to Escape Pod because Steve Eley is the best there is at what he does (sorry, Logan). When will I get my next SFEley fix?

  39. Jerry says:

    Going to have to agree with everyone who called this heavy-handed and tedious. I too felt the narration made it worse, being too breathy, lengthy, and overly dramatic. It made the story move far too slowly, and yes, I did listen to all of it hoping for some kind of twist; I wish that I had stopped when the Neanderthals (oops, I said it) turned out to be a flawless (dare I say master) race. That, combined with the narrator’s smug prediction at the end made the message of this story not so much “Be tolerant” as it is “RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.” Looking back, I have to wonder whether the narrator is in fact supposed to be the racist, apparently unable to comprehend or mention the flaws of her adopted minority group, and gleefully pondering the downfall of another group based on the negative actions of a few of its members. I might just be reading too much into the story, but for me the lesson of this Very Special Escape Pod is “don’t combat prejudice with prejudice” (and don’t talk too slow or you’ll sound preachy).

  40. Gia says:

    I like Jerry’s idea. The story would be much more interesting if the narrator was racist.

  41. Very interesting. Like many great stories, there seems to be a bit of a Rorschach Test aspect to it. Lots of different ways to view the same ink blot. I really liked it though.

  42. Travis says:

    Great Story!! I think a lot of people are complaining about the “ghosts” being too perfect because they’re missing the point of that aspect of the story… that point being that OF COURSE there were more “normal” members of the group, but that the media focused on the ghosts who out-did other people with what they achieved, and thereby the media was (intentionally or not) emphasizing that these people are somehow different.
    Whether you see this story as being about racism or closer to Xenophobia, to say the reaction of the general public was natural… well that is just excusing the worst aspect of human nature. No matter how you feel, you’re still responsible for your actions. It’s ironic that I’ve always seen/heard Neanderthals portrayed as primal cavemen, but the ones focused on by this story behaved in a much more civilized manner than most of the homo sapiens.

    Generally, I admit to having a low tollerence for Alasdair’s voice, which seems a bit nasaly, but in this case his outro had me cheering wildly. Bravo and kudos!

  43. Brett Taylor says:

    Loved the story, once I got through it.

    I stopped listening to this one because of the long pauses between each sentence or paragraph were putting me to sleep. If I was the sound engineer, I would have tightened up the ‘dead air’ to make this a fair bit shorter.

    I resumed listening to it and ended up really enjoying the story after I discovered the audio speed control for podcasts in iPhone OS 3.0 beta that I’ve been using; I bumped the speed up to 2x and it was more tolerable to listen to.

  44. Hey, Jerry and Gia- the fun part about fiction, especially speculative fiction, is that YOU GET TO DECIDE who was the racist in the story!

    So, you’re right!

  45. DrCrisp says:

    I like Pablo’s take. Seemed to me more of a take on how we don’t like certain ethnic groups in America succeeding more than “us”. Whether its Jews that are too rich, Asians that are too smart, Africans that are too fast, etc etc. And it nicely shows how have treated these groups in the past as “sub humans” and especially put up blockages of inter-breeding with them.

    It is also always nice to see an anti-evolution story of any type. This story shows interbreeding of two people which would, of course, destroy the concept of man “descending” from Neanderthal. If Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens Sapiens can produce children, then we are both the same species. Rather like the concept of the mulatto in our past, where people used to think that offspring of African and Europeans were some sort of “throw-back”. The ability for the theory of evolution to rationalize racism is a subject that is rarely brought up these days.

  46. Peter Recore says:

    Did anyone else see the similarity with EP11, about the group of Einstein clones?

  47. M. says:

    I really enjoyed this story with all the subtle nuances of quicksilver emotions playing across my mind. So many ways to feel about each aspect of how David is treated by the individuals in his life. So many things Mandy dreams of for her son, and all her fears as well. This story struck chords, playing them deeply and very well.

  48. Blaine Boy says:

    The bad part of listening late is having your ideas stolen before you say them. So what I haven’t seen in the comments (but I didn’t read them all) is what if our human genes are becoming the dead end? That sort of revelation would certainly inspire hatred and jealousy. And for those I’ve heard trying to justify even a few of the mob’s murder, yes cold-blooded murder, through fear or mob mentality, you have some issues agreeing with them and justifying hatred. Yes, it’s unfair turning it into a black and white issue, but that’s what racism is. Hate or love, there really isn’t a middle ground.

    Sincerely,
    The Blaine Boy

  49. Sam says:

    I’m really surprised by how negative some people’s reactions were. I loved it!

    I’m totally game for a heavy dose of commentary about racism. I thought it was heavy, but not heavy-handed. It wasn’t about finding compassion for the racists (which could be good as well). It was about what bigotry feels like on the receiving end. And it was about losing a loved one.

    Again, I was surprised by the criticism of the emotional tone of the story. Not to play the personal grief card, but I once lost a close family member, and the main character’s mix of anger, malaise, misery and reverie felt very familiar.

    I say this is Grade A Sci-Fi.

  50. chornbe says:

    Wow, I thought this one was f’ing excellent.

  51. Natasha says:

    I’m only partway through listening to this, but finding the narration so excruciating that I came here to read the comments and determine if it’s worth getting through. Looks like a no.

    Seriously, the narration? It sounds like she’s reading an erotica story. Too breathy, too slow, too luxuriating in its own drama.

    There are too many other, better, stories to spend any more time listening to this one.

  52. Bruce Nielson says:

    Am I the only one that noticed that this story could, without any change whatsoever, be framed as a white supremacist tirade?

    We have a light skinned blue eyed race that is superior to all others that will grow to dominate the world via intermarriage (and their desirability for intermarriage with other races) until all other races are extinct or otherwise dominated. The other races try to contain them by using quotas and various other forms of “affirmative action” and cultural outrage because this white skinned race will so obviously going to end up dominating everything if nothing is done.

    I am not implying that the author secretly intended this, but clearly the story can be taken either way, and this scares the living daylights out of me.

    Did anyone else catch this besides me?

    Needless to say, this is an extremely thought provoking story precisely because it turns our understanding of racism on its head by introducing a truly superior race. (And one that we have a natural prejudice against, no less, because of the way we are used to thinking of Neanderthals.) Brilliant work. The most thought provoking story I’ve listened to so far on Escape Pod.

  53. Pandora says:

    I loved this story. Several previous commenters have done an excellent job of recapping why this is a thought-provoking and fascinating story, so I’ll just say that I agree with their comments on why this was a great episode.

    I actually enjoyed the narration very much. I didn’t find it too slow at all – it provided the deliberate pacing needed for a story with this much gravity and emotion. It gave the listener time to absorb the information, and reflect upon his/her own feelings about the events that were occurring. People nowadays often forget what it means to sit back and give enough time to be drawn into a story. I felt that the narration added a thoughtfulness to the story that would have been lacking if it had been read faster.

    Excellent choice for Escape Pod. Here’s hoping that you will share more stories by this author, and more readings by this narrator.

  54. Wow. Thank you, Pandora.
    (The Narrator, who also wants to point out to one commenter that this WAS a straight read. :) )

  55. [...] can listen out this story on Escape Pod, a flash fiction audio podcast that first got me interested in listening to short [...]