(CS 4) Production Notes

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.

(CS 2) Production Notes

We’re only two episodes in, but it’s possible you’ve already noticed far fewer sound effects and music in Crystal Society, compared to my previous projects. I want to say there are artistic reasons for this, but alas, I cannot. It’s purely practical.

At my last job, I didn’t work the full day. I had to be in the office for roughly eight hours, but for a decent handful of hours every week I didn’t have work to do. So I’d spend some of that time on planning SFX and music, and/or searching out appropriate FX/music. And I’d also take long lunches, during which time I’d work on the podcast episodes. A typical 25 minute episode is 6-8 hours of work. For complex things, it could be longer.

Now I have a new job, which I haven’t work-optimized yet, and which requires more of my brain and time. On top of that, I have far more non-work projects nowadays, including The Bayesian Conspiracy podcast, and trying to make an honest attempt at professional-level writing. On top of a growing social life and home responsibilities, I just don’t have the time to produce episodes as richly as I used to. :(

This is mainly a vanity thing. I liked adding in the music and SFX, it was fun, and it made the project more personal to me. But while they do make the listening experience slightly better (I hope), they are frills and extras. The core story is the true value of the podcast, and that is not lost. I wish I had the time for the frills. But there’s only so many hours in life, and we all have to choose our priorities, and ultimately the frills just aren’t as important as writing a novel or renovating my home.

I do have a few, though. Anything that’s really simple to throw in, for one. And the functional ones that are needed in order to translate the work into audio. Like page-flips to denote section breaks. Or the background hum (reminiscent of a space station, I hope) whenever the AIs are speaking internally to each other. In the text this is conveyed by using [brackets] around their text, rather than “quotes”. I realized immediately that I needed something similar in the audio to give some clue that there is no speaking with the outside world happening, only internal dialogs. I hope it’s enough?

I’m really surprised that more audio fiction hasn’t switched to doing something like this yet. Visual cues in a manuscript, like indentation or changed font, really do need some sort of equivalent audio cue. Come on publishers, it’s not that hard.

SFX: Warp Core, Flashback

Intro/Outro – I Wanna Be Adored, by The Stone Roses