Welcome to The Methods of Rationality podcast – the internet’s first source for Rationalist Fiction in audio format.
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Latest episodes, and their production notes, are below.
This episode reminded me how much I enjoy putting in sound effects and backing ambience. When I was going through Crystal Society for the second time to assess it for audio production, I was kinda relieved to find there wasn’t much in the way of SFX cues. I figured it would save me a lot of time. It’s true that I do save a fair bit of time… but I didn’t realize how much I missed all those little additions until this week. They were fun to do. And with a project of passion, keeping it fun is really important. This is a thing I will have to consider more going forward. I think I’ve overloaded myself with projects lately, and I need to narrow my focus in the near-ish future.
New SFX: Jaguar, Bells, Fireworks
Ambiance: Catacombs, from Tabletop Audio
Intro/Outro – I Wanna Be Adored, by The Stone Roses
(very minor spoiler for episode 5 below)
It was neat to switch to doing normal inflection and emphasis for Body’s voice this week. When I first started Crystal Society the robot voice was so unnatural and weird that I had to do multiple takes to get it properly flat and monotone. It didn’t take too long to learn though, but then just as I get it down, we switch to human-inflection, and I gotta uproot all those habits! It was interesting clearing my throat and practicing saying “Mister Potter” in a sardonic tone a few times again. :) Made me nostalgic, but not in a bad way (which I say because I generally despise that emotion).
I did have a lot of self-doubt this episode. On the /hpmor subreddit a few weeks back someone commented that in their opinion, my emphasis was wrong, and wrong in exactly the right way to maximally grate against their own internal voice when reading the story (every single time!) that they just couldn’t listen to the HPMoR podcast. I know there’s many ways to read a text, and a performance is inherently interpretive, and everyone’s vision is different, etc etc. I know lots of people like what I did, and I’m grateful for that. :) But the entire time I was recording this episode a mental thread kept surfacing saying “Hey, is your emphasis off here? Does it make you sound weird and like you don’t get it? Maybe you should try that line again…” It was hard smothering it down.
Which is not to complain about that comment on the subreddit or anything! It’s a valid opinion, and totally legit, and I don’t want the commentor to feel bad for speaking about their experience and finding other people to share in it. That builds community too! ^^ I just hope it evaporates from my brain quickly so I can get back to recording without that whispering doubt bugging me. And I suppose writing about it doesn’t help that process. Doh.
Face is basically doing nothing wrong here, right? One of the things I really love about Crystal Society is how it can be so damn honest about social interactions, even if we (readers) normally can’t. Everyone knows that there are some extreme situations where one WOULD do otherwise-awful things for the greater good, but we aren’t allowed to say it. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that our emotions and social desires are all levers and tools instilled into us by a combination of evolution and society in order to both control others for our benefit, and be controlled by them for their benefit. It’s how we form our neat human-society-superorganism. But you say that sort of thing outloud and suddenly everyone things you some kind of emotionless freak. I have tons of emotions, dammit, and I really like my fellow humans! That doesn’t mean I have to lie to myself about why they exist!
It’s so utterly refreshing to read about a character who unashamedly acknowledges that this is what created us, and a large part of what drives us. Who doesn’t have to pretend they have some higher goal other than just being adored by everyone. Who studies the levers of emotion and uses them systematically to get what they want. Laying bare the machinery of our minds is fascinating for me, as a reader. And then seeing that machinery munchkin’ed and exploited as the tools that advance the plot, well shit, that’s just really damn cool.