Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Escape Pod 139: Acephalous Dreams

EP139: Acephalous Dreams by Neal Asher

Last week's Escape Pod was an unusually graphic story about a criminal in the future who becomes the subject of an experiment by the AI in charge. My biggest problem with the story was structural. The beheading scene basically happens twice and I think that is unnecessary. I think there were better options in terms of narrative structure to tell this tale. It is getting a lot of feedback about how repulsive the story is, but I feel there is a larger picture being missed.

To me, the sodomy scene is as symbolic as everything else that happens. The story is a kind of brutal scifi meditation on power. By the end, I kept thinking of this Tool piece that begins with a preacher praying for the lives of the carrots.

And the angel of the lord came unto me, snatching me up from my place of slumber.
And took me on high, and higher still until we moved to the spaces betwixt the air itself.
And he brought me into a vast farmlands of our own midwest.
And as we descended, cries of impending doom rose from the soil.
One thousand, nay a million voices full of fear.
And terror possesed me then.
And I begged,
"Angel of the Lord, what are these tortured screams?"
And the angel said unto me,
"These are the cries of the carrots, the cries of the carrots!
You see, Reverend Maynard, tomorrow is harvest day and to them it is the holocaust."
And I sprang from my slumber drenched in sweat like the tears of one million terrified brothers and roared,
"Hear me now, I have seen the light!
They have a consciousness, they have a life, they have a soul!
Damn you!
Let the rabbits wear glasses!
Save our brothers!"
Can I get an amen?
Can I get a hallelujah?
Thank you Jesus.

*sheep and farm animal sounds*

This is necessary.
Life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on........

I guess the point of the story, to me, and in its most banal form is that sentient beings screw each other, eat each other, kill each other. That's what we do and the cycle is infinite. I would like to read a print version of this story to analyze it more carefully. Even though this story was not as enjoyable as most, it left me thinking and wondering, and feeling that there is a mystery there I did not quite grasp.

Again, I think the key is power.
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