I wasn’t kidding about loving this story, I’ve blogged about it before. Although to be fair, I’ve loved every story I’ve ever podcast. It’s one of the advantages of having your own podcast. :)
You may be wondering why the next episode in two weeks isn’t going to be chapter 102 of HPMoR, seeing as the text will be released July 25th. The answer is “production schedules.” I like to always be a full episode ahead of what’s airing, to cover for any sudden unexpected life events. This has saved me from missing an episode release on more than one occasion. As I’m typing this on 7/22, the next episode (airing 8/6) is already be complete. Normally I would already be working on the 8/20 episode. Production begins nearly a month before an episode is due to air. As such, I do not have enough time to get chapter 102 recorded and produced in time for the next episode on 8/6. Especially if there’s going to be voices other than mine in it, which nowadays is almost assured.
Technically this isn’t completely true – if I wanted to sacrifice a number of other projects I could probably get it done in time. But I’m still working on renovating the new house, and every day that isn’t done is extremely expensive, and I don’t want to kill myself. So next episode is essays, and Ch 102 will air 8/20. :)
I’m still mega-busy, so brief production notes today.
(And if you’re wondering why, I purchased a house. I got a steep discount due to the fact that the previous owner had smoked in it for 20+ years. Figured some cleaning, some painting, new carpets, shouldn’t take THAT long. But everything is a bit longer than I thought, and more importantly – new things I didn’t anticipate keep cropping up. DAMN YOU, PLANNING FALLACY! /shakes fist So this project has kinda taken over my entire life.)
Things I Thought Were Annoying: Having to re-record every single line with the name “Lachlan” in it in the first episode, because I found out I had mispronounced it a few days before it went live, and then having to splice them all in. /grumble
Things I Found Out Are ACTUALLY Annoying: Having to re-record the entire friggin’ second episosde because when I was done recording it the first time I clicked “Save” and my computer thought it would rather hard-crash than save. /killmenow
Things I Was Surprised By: When trying to make the water sound-effects go from above-surface to below-surface I wasn’t sure what to do and started playing around with the effects options. Almost the first thing I tried worked (literally – it was the second thing I tried). An extremely simple low-pass filter gives you that trademark Murky Underwater sound. Which immediately made me suspicious. Maybe being underwater sounds like that *because*it’s an easy effect to do, so it’s used a lot, and we associate that sound with being underwater. Does being underwater actually sound like that IRL? Now I have to go a swimming pool and test. It’s entirely possible that water acts as a great low-pass filter IRL, but I got my suspicious-eyes on you, Hollywood!
Sometimes you don’t notice things until you’re looking for them.
When I realized there was going to be a many-months gap between the end of Roles and the Final Arc, I started looking around for other stories to podcast in the interim. You read things differently when you read for a podcast. It’s not just “Do I like this?” but “Would the audience like it? Can I do it believably? What SFX would I need? Who would voice this character?”
Perhaps due to a quirk in my circle of friends, or my psychology, or the direct effects of the Self-Actualization arc, I feel like I have a fair bit more female voices I can call on easily than I do male voices. So when I see female characters I immediately snap to “Yes, X can do her, Y can do her, Z can do her, and I still have people left over” and when I see male characters I think “Crap… I can use A for him, but B and C wouldn’t really work for these roles, and that leaves me without anyone to voice Supporting Character!” So I feel a twinge of emotional pain when I see a lot of male characters and few/no female characters, because it means production stress for me.
And when something produces a flash of pain, you quickly notice when almost every single thing you read produces that pain. There are very few women in most SF.
I don’t want to attack anyone, and it’s really not something anyone in particular should be faulted for. Most characters don’t need to be a specific gender, they could go either way. So when an author chooses to go with a male character there’s no reason to fault him, it isn’t malicious. Whatevs.
But when everyone unconsciously chooses male consistently, you end up with a sea of fiction that feels fake in the aggregate. It feels like genre fiction happens in worlds that simply don’t have women in them, at least not as agents that matter. All those little twinges of pain add up and you think “Holy shit, what the hell is going on here?” It’s something that I wouldn’t even have noticed until recently.
Over the past few years things have been getting significantly better. But when people ask things like “Why do we need Women Destroy Science Fiction? Isn’t that sexist?” I tell them to try producing a podcast with more women than men voice actors and then come back and try asking again.
Maybe I take this sort of thing too personally, but recently I saw one of those lists of highly-regarded books. This was a diverse list, and had a few titles in a large range of fields, including Science Fiction, and Fantasy. It also contained Literary Fiction. And in that category? Friggin Murakami.
You know how something like Wind-Up Bird Chronicle gets placed under Lit Fic? Goddamn cultural appropriation. Whenever a good piece of SF actually manages to sneak under the radar and get the attention of the Lit Fic crowd they decide that it couldn’t POSSIBLY be SF, because they would never like something as low-status as science fiction! So things like Flowers For Algernon or The Handmaiden’s Tale get re-classified as Literary Fiction in the face of all reason, simply because someone highfalutin liked it and thought it was tarnished under the SF label.
I probably don’t need to say this to the readership/listenership of HPMoR, but to put this in perspective for the two other people that stumbled here somehow – imagine someone saying Neil deGrasse Tyson couldn’t possibly be black, because he was too smart, so they would be classifying him as “white” from now on. That’s… well OK, that’s worse honestly, comparing the two is a bit of an exaggeration. But it’s similar.
What I’m saying is, screw every single one of those uppity bastards.
Doing this week’s podcast was amazingly fast. No music, no sound effects, no other voices to mix in. And only 3000 words to boot! I put together the whole episode in about three hours. It was crazy to have something completed that quickly after having gotten used to the production time of a regular episode. And kinda freeing.
Then I played it back, listening through the whole thing in one sitting.
Usually that’s the penultimate step, followed by finishing touches. Not so this time. I sounded like a friggin teenager excited to find an awesome new idea. Because yes, I was excited. The Sequences where a major event in my life, and that emotion was bubbling up again. But that sort of reading is simply not dignified. It was painful to listen it. As someone supporting a new idea that others might view with shifty-eyes, exuberance is not allowed. The speaker must be calm, sober. Passion is ok, but only of the elder statesman variety. /sigh. I had to start all over from scratch.
Still ended up taking less time than a typical episode, but it wasn’t the break I’d thought it was going to be at first.
Even when he’s not written by Eliezer, rational!Quirrell continues to be one of my all-time favorite characters. I love how well his cynical nature was captured in this dialog with Harry. In particular, the description of Muggle minds creeped me right the hell out. It closely resembled the description of human minds in Peter Watts’s “The Things.” For those who haven’t read it, it’s an amazing The Thing fanfic, which received critical acclaim and was nominated for the 2011 Hugo Award for Short Story. I consider it Rationalist Horror, and you’ll probably like it if you like rationalist fic and you’ve seen The Thing. I strongly recommend it! It’s also available in audio format, at the same link.
Thank you again to Alexander Wales for allowing me to podcast Philosopher’s Zombie. Further writings of his can be found here. “The Last Christmas” contains this awesome scene:
“I want Li Xiu Yang to be given a gift that will leave her permanently physically healthy, uninjured, and with a mental state that is within three sigmas of normal for her age, gender, and culture. I want her to be free from any disability or degradation of any of her senses, organs, or other body parts. Whatever solution you give should age her at the normal rate until her twentieth birthday, at which point she should cease to age.”
The elf gave him a funny look, then began to shape the ball of grey goop. Three minutes later, he presented Charles with a small pebble.
“This is it?” he asked. “And it won’t turn her into some kind of monster, or cause her unbearable pain, or anything like that?”
The elf sighed and took the pebble back, then after a few moments of reconstruction handed it back to Charles.