Story Notes: Whatever Tower, However High

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to take a Sci-Fi and Fairy Tales workshop with the Brainery (taught by the lovely and talented Carina Bissett). Each week we tackled an element of science & technology and combined it with a myth or fairy tale to create a science fiction story.

“Whatever Tower, However High” resulted from pairing Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, “The Tinder-Box,” with the phenomenon of the Internet of Things, or the idea that all of our gadgets and smart houses and Amazon Echoes will form their own interconnected network.

As Tina mentions in her commentary at the end of the episode, “The Tinder-Box” is a pretty grim tale in most respects. The soldier achieves his ends primarily via murder and by using the magical (and ill-gotten) tinder-box. The princess is a trophy, not a person.

I didn’t much want to go down that specific road, but I was intrigued by the image of the soldier after war living in a tiny attic apartment where no one would visit him and the ways in which that mirrors the image of the woman in the tower. Which is how Eric and his fellow hacker, Rebecca, came to be. They are, in many respects, two sides of the same coin.

The difference is, of course, that whether Eric knows it or not, he does have a community who cares for him: Warley and the people who live in his apartment building. As someone who’s always adopting people into her own, I’m a sucker for found families.

And 3D chess. And wheelchairs that go way too fast.

“Whatever Tower, However High,” read by Logan Waterman, was episode 573 of Escape Pod, the weekly science fiction podcast. You can donate directly on their site or support them and the other Escape Artists podcasts on Patreon.

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