Escape Artists

PodCastle => Episode Comments => Topic started by: Lionman on August 13, 2008, 12:08:32 PM



Title: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Lionman on August 13, 2008, 12:08:32 PM
PC020: Cup and Table (http://podcastle.org/2008/08/12/pc020-cup-and-table/)

By Tim Pratt (http://www.timpratt.org/)
Read by Stephen Eley (of Escape Pod (http://www.escapepod.org/))
First appeared in Twenty Epics (http://www.amazon.com/Twenty-Epics-Susan-Groppi/dp/1847280668) (All Star Stories)

The Old Doctor welcomed Sigmund, twenty years old and tormented by visions, into the library at the Table’s headquarters. Shelves rose everywhere like battlements, the floors were old slate, and the lights were ancient crystal-dripping chandeliers, but the Old Doctor sat in a folding chair at a card table heaped with books.

“I expected, well, something _more_,” Sigmund said, thumping the rickety table with his hairy knuckles. “A big slab of mahogany or something, a table with authority.”

“We had a fine table once,” the Old Doctor said, eternally middle-aged and absently professorial. “But it was chopped up for firewood during a siege in the 1600s.” He tapped the side of his nose. “There’s a
lesson in that. No asset, human or material, is important compared to the continued existence of the organization itself.”

“But surely _you’re_ irreplaceable,” Sigmund said, awkward attempt at job security through flattery. The room shivered and blurred at the edges of his vision, but it had not changed much in recent decades, a few books moving here and there, piles of dust shifting across the floor.

The Old Doctor shook his head. “I am the living history of the Table, but if I died, a new doctor would be sent from the archives to take over operations, and though his approach might differ from mine, his
role would be the same — to protect the cup.”

“The cup,” Sigmund said, sensing the cusp of mysteries. “You mean the Holy Grail.”


Rated PG. Contains mysteries, religious and philosophical.


——————————————————————————————————


I rather enjoyed this story.  It felt as if it had a touch of 'Indiana Jones' and some 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' feel to it.  It felt gritty and seedy, and enough touch of reality to make you wonder, but then know it was still fiction.

There was, in my thinking, a little jerkiness with the time-travel, but not so much as to turn me off.

What I liked most, was the build up to the finale, this character who knew he was unprepared for asking the question, making a request.  And it's topped off with a request better, than any of the other characters could, or would have made.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: stePH on August 13, 2008, 12:14:28 PM
BOOBIES!  ;D

I enjoyed this story right up until the end, which seemed unsatisfying to me. 

I've noticed recently that I have a strong predisposition for stories with endings that leave me something solid to hold to -- I don't like stories that end with ambiguity.

Apart from that complaint (but it's a pretty big one to me) I thought the characters were intriguing; I particularly wanted to know more about the "phage" who ate live scorpions and wasps.

And I was reminded of Gallagher saying "If I ever meet God, I want to kick him in the nuts." ;D


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Void Munashii on August 13, 2008, 12:22:04 PM
  I loved this story. This almost knocks Ant King out as my favourite PC yet, and it is certainly my favourite serious story. Like Lionman, I too thought of "League of Extraordinary Gentleman" but also of "Hellboy" if the BPRD was composed entirely of despicable and detestable bastards.

  I thought the other agents of The Table were very well represented even though none of them really got a lot of time; i found their powers and reasons for wanting the cup to be very interesting and believable. I would love to see more of these characters (Carlsbad in parrticular), but I don't suppose there would be much point to it seeing as everyone dies.

  I liked how Sigmund did not have enough evil in him to keep Carlsbad alive, proving him to be, if not a good guy, at least less of a complete bastard than everyone else. I liked the ending, trying to shwo what happened between Sigmund and God probably would have been less satisfying than making us guess.

  This story did something that many writers fail horribly at, it managed to jump back and forth in the chronology of its world without ever making it confusing as to what was happening and when. I definitely want more like this.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Brian Deacon on August 13, 2008, 12:57:01 PM
Wow.

So I listen to the Escape Artists trifecta, but am almost always a lurker, but this line right near the opening made me decide I was going to post even before I had finished the story:

Quote
He stepped around the spreading shadow of his best friend, Carlsbad, who had died as he'd lived, inconclusively, and without fanfare.

Okay, so you can have a great line in an otherwise crap story, but this was a great line in a great story, and made me insecurely wonder what it meant to live an inconclusive life, and if I was busy doing it. 

Other people may or may not go on to gush about the other things I could go on to gush about, and I think there's much gushing to be done. But the one other thing I wanted to get out is that, while I don't like it, I'm normally plagued by not letting stories "get to me" enough on an emotional level.  The one's that do get to me seem like strange exceptions, (eg. Kurt Vonnegut).  So a story about God-with-a-capital-G was definitely in danger of riding entirely in my frontal lobe and I was quite enjoying the ride at that level most of the story.  And while I'm sure there's a mess of people that thought the last line was cheesy, I was totally sucker-punched.  It completely worked on me.  Somehow it took a hard left turn and linked up spiritual-navel-gazing-ennui with "I just broke up with my girlfriend".

I didn't burst into tears (that's happened like twice in my life), but I did feel the physical sensation of the tear ducts firing up.

So bravo.  I don't like playing the game of "Best. Story. Ever." But I do like thinking of my favorite 3 or 5, and this definitely made that list.

Brian



Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: DKT on August 13, 2008, 01:07:17 PM
   I thought the other agents of The Table were very well represented even though none of them really got a lot of time; i found their powers and reasons for wanting the cup to be very interesting and believable. I would love to see more of these characters (Carlsbad in parrticular), but I don't suppose there would be much point to it seeing as everyone dies.

I have to say, this is also an incredibly difficult thing to do (at least for me), and I can't believe how well it Tim Pratt did it, especially in such a short space.  And he gave just enough for each agent of the Table to come into their own.  They all had their own personal motivations for why they wanted to chase down God and they all stayed true to them. 

This story knocked me out, from the first line to the last.  It felt gritty, yet whimsical.  And despite not really liking who any of the characters were, I loved them.  Incredible writing.  I can't wait to listen to it again.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Listener on August 13, 2008, 01:14:00 PM
Another Tim Pratt story, another one that, which I didn't like it right away, I definitely liked it toward the end.

The reading was good -- no "Mounted/Saved/People's Justice" but about normal.  A little audio repeat toward the end, which given it was a story about time travel kind of almost fit.

I think that most people will probably want to know more about Carlsbad.  I know I wanted him to win, but with Sigmund being the main character, it was clear who would find the cup at the end.  But Carlsbad was the most interesting character (other than Ray, who was pretty cool for being such a dick), and I really would like to know what the Creator intended when He* created a being of pure evil.

I wonder how many other people thought that Carlsbad would have to kill Sigmund before he could die.

Making Sigmund a speed addict was an interesting twist.

In the beginning, I pretty much figured out that Sigmund was their Merlin, if Merlin really did live time in reverse.

Sigmund and the New Doctor having sex was a little jarring.  The reasoning made perfect sense, but I think it could've been addressed more humorously, the sort of "needs must" or "lay back and think of England" angle.

The Table seemed a bit of a throwaway, a reason to keep them all in business.  It made the story more complicated than I think it probably had to be.

I enjoyed this story right up until the end, which seemed unsatisfying to me. 

It was to me AT FIRST.  But after I had a moment to let it sink in, I was all "wow, that was pretty cool."  All Sigmund wanted was for the Creator not to leave after He pooped out the world or whatever.

Overall, I liked it.

* or she; whatever.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: ryos on August 13, 2008, 01:19:42 PM
I really like the imagery and settings in this story. The characters were pretty good too. It all sort of reminded me of the Merovingian's mansion filled with medieval castoffs in the second Matrix movie.

I'm glad the story stuck to fantasy as far as its religious elements are concerned; or, in other words, that the religion portrayed in the story was fake. If there was any analog to a real-world ideology I'd say it was moral relativism: everyone's belief is literally true. The God in the story was unlike any I've heard of; he was not like the Judeo-Christian God, nor was he like Allah. As far as I know, only monotheistic religions call their god God, and I know of no monotheistic religion that believes God created and then abandoned the world.

My biggest gripe against the story is a problem I have with a lot of Escape Artists productions; that is, that it was hard for my imagination to keep pace with the reading. When a story has as many fantastical elements as this one, I find that I would need to pause for a moment, slow down my reading a bit, to wrap my imagination around what's going on. I found myself rewinding a lot, especially towards the beginning.

I don't mean that as an indictment of the reading; it's just a comment on the nature of the beast.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: dogpurse on August 13, 2008, 01:25:48 PM
All of Tim Pratt's stories are on my favorite EA list so, yeah, this one gave me the warm fuzzies, too. Still, I feel cheated. Halfway through the reading, I was longing for the book, or graphic novel, or 26 episode anime.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: stePH on August 13, 2008, 01:26:00 PM
I'm glad the story stuck to fantasy as far as its religious elements are concerned; or, in other words, that the religion portrayed in the story was fake. If there was any analog to a real-world ideology I'd say it was moral relativism: everyone's belief is literally true. The God in the story was unlike any I've heard of; he was not like the Judeo-Christian God, nor was he like Allah. As far as I know, only monotheistic religions call their god God, and I know of no monotheistic religion that believes God created and then abandoned the world.

Look up "Deism" some time.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: eytanz on August 13, 2008, 03:40:51 PM
I really loved the story - and I agree with all the praise above - the writing was wonderful, providing exactly the right amount of time for the characters to all be rich without taking over, enough clues of great mysteries to make the world seem wonderous without taking attention away from the main plot - heck, for having a story that jumped around chronologically without being confusing.

And I loved the ending. I loved how both doctors wanted to use their one wish with god to have him tell them why he left, while Sigmund simply asked him not to leave. There's a world of difference in that alone.


Title: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: hautdesert on August 13, 2008, 03:52:21 PM
In the beginning, I pretty much figured out that Sigmund was their Merlin, if Merlin really did live time in reverse.

The "living in reverse" thing was, if I recall correctly, an innovation of T.H. White's.  It doesn't appear in any older adaptations.

I take Sigmund, for fairly obvious reasons, to be a Perceval/Galahad figure.  The old doctor is a Merlin analogue--Nimue/The Lady of the Lake did away with Merlin and then took his place.


Title: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Void Munashii on August 13, 2008, 03:56:52 PM
All of Tim Pratt's stories are on my favorite EA list so, yeah, this one gave me the warm fuzzies, too. Still, I feel cheated. Halfway through the reading, I was longing for the book, or graphic novel, or 26 episode anime.

  The whole time I was listening I was thinking "This would make an awesome ongoing series", especially as it flies through all the adventures actually gathering up the peices of the map. I would love to see this done as a limited run series, although an anime, if done well, would be awesome as well.


Title: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Void Munashii on August 13, 2008, 03:57:43 PM
  Oh, is this the official thread then?  ;)


Title: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Heradel on August 13, 2008, 03:58:53 PM
I'm trying to merge the threads and maintain post order, but it was looking pretty ugly. Work In Progress.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Ocicat on August 13, 2008, 04:02:07 PM
Big thumbs up from me too.  Not a perfect story, but very fun.  Reminded me a lot of a Grant Morrison comic, with big ideas thrown out there in a sentence, and not explored.  And fitting lots of those into one short story.  I'm not sure if the result was really that coherent a story in and of itself, but it was very fun, and left me wanting more. 

Starting the story with the protagonist stepping over his team mates bodies and then revealing that the world was ending and he was the only one left alive... good choice.  Talk about a hook!  I really wanted to know how we'd gotten to that point.  And if the story left characters only roughly sketched, and side adventures alluded to, it didn't bug me, because I wanted to hurry up and get to that end of the world bit. 

I also really liked how the order (once the knights of the round table?) seems to slowly have turned from a group dedicated to protecting the cup (ie, seeing that no one used it) to one with exactly the opposite goal.  Because organizations - even ones with immortal members - grow corrupt over time.  Usually while espousing their old ideals, but doing the opposite.  Left as an exercise to the reader to find parallels in the real world.

And I'll go on record as saying I really enjoyed the intro.  The PC staff has been getting a lot of flack about overlong intros that spoil story content or themes.  This intro was long, and tangentially related, but I think Ann did it right.  She gave solid background material that gave a context for the story in the history of literature, without saying anything about this story in particular or it's take on things.  And the intro was enjoyable in it's own right, as the story of her growing appreciation of the Arthurian legends.  Maybe it helps that I'm also a bit Arthur obsessed, and have also read a lot of the modern versions and original sources. 


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: stePH on August 13, 2008, 04:02:54 PM
I'm trying to merge the threads and maintain post order, but it was looking pretty ugly. Work In Progress.

I reacted to Lionman's thread too quickly.  I saw that a thread was up and had no replies, so I pounced.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Void Munashii on August 13, 2008, 04:05:02 PM
I'm trying to merge the threads and maintain post order, but it was looking pretty ugly. Work In Progress.

I reacted to Lionman's thread too quickly.  I saw that a thread was up and had no replies, so I pounced.

  I don't have any lofty excuse like "BOOBIES!"; I was just being a smartarse, sorry.  ;D


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: eytanz on August 13, 2008, 04:26:06 PM
I'm trying to merge the threads and maintain post order, but it was looking pretty ugly. Work In Progress.

Wow, I didn't even notice that it wasn't a regular thread until now. How was Lionman able to create it?


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Heradel on August 13, 2008, 04:30:18 PM
I'm trying to merge the threads and maintain post order, but it was looking pretty ugly. Work In Progress.

Wow, I didn't even notice that it wasn't a regular thread until now. How was Lionman able to create it?

Apparently this section's tag that says Mods-Only got left off. It's great that he, and all of you, want to talk about the story, but trying to merge threads gets really ugly because we can't change post order (it's locked to the time of the posting). Anyway, this is the best solution without going into the DB and changing post times, so this interlude over, back to the story.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: stePH on August 13, 2008, 04:45:09 PM
I'm trying to merge the threads and maintain post order, but it was looking pretty ugly. Work In Progress.

Wow, I didn't even notice that it wasn't a regular thread until now. How was Lionman able to create it?

Apparently this section's tag that says Mods-Only got left off. It's great that he, and all of you, want to talk about the story, but trying to merge threads gets really ugly because we can't change post order (it's locked to the time of the posting). Anyway, this is the best solution without going into the DB and changing post times, so this interlude over, back to the story.

I deleted my duplicated post at least; it's the best I can do.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Roney on August 13, 2008, 05:02:56 PM
Amazing stuff.  I'm prepared to sit through any number of stories that aren't to my taste if PodCastle throws up a story like this now and again.*  Excellent characters, driving plot, some wonderful lines, the end of the world and the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.  I don't think I could ask for more.

I do find these time-jumping stories a little bit difficult to track when read aloud, but I managed to keep up.  Some audio cues in the background might not hurt for stories like this, so the listener can think: "Ah-ha, there's that howling wind sound effect, we must be back in the Himalayas."  But it only helps if some locations are used repeatedly.

*Actually the good:meh ratio has been pretty healthy, which makes the strike rate of jaw-dropping:good all the more creditable.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: DKT on August 13, 2008, 05:14:21 PM
And I'll go on record as saying I really enjoyed the intro.  The PC staff has been getting a lot of flack about overlong intros that spoil story content or themes.  This intro was long, and tangentially related, but I think Ann did it right.  She gave solid background material that gave a context for the story in the history of literature, without saying anything about this story in particular or it's take on things.  And the intro was enjoyable in it's own right, as the story of her growing appreciation of the Arthurian legends.  Maybe it helps that I'm also a bit Arthur obsessed, and have also read a lot of the modern versions and original sources. 

It worked for me just because I could tell Ann was geeking out about it.  And even though I'm not a huge Arthurian nut (I mean I like it and all, but that's it), hearing someone so honestly geeking out about it was fun. 


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Rain on August 14, 2008, 12:56:56 PM
Best. Podcastle. Ever!

I really love it when Podcastle goes slightly into the New Weird genre, it reminded me of a mix between a China Miéville story and X-Men, the only bad thing i can say is that i want more stories in this world.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Roney on August 14, 2008, 02:33:16 PM
I really love it when Podcastle goes slightly into the New Weird genre, it reminded me of a mix between a China Miéville story and X-Men, the only bad thing i can say is that i want more stories in this world.

For similarities both superficial (protagonist's special abilities enhanced by drug overdose) and structural (world that's been abandoned by God looking to his return), I'd check out Steph Swainston's series that starts with The Year Of Our War (http://www.amazon.com/Year-Our-War-Steph-Swainston/dp/0060753870/).  Some elements didn't work so well for me, but the narrator's voice rings as clearly as any I've read and the world-building is fascinating, intricate and chaotic.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Rain on August 14, 2008, 04:24:08 PM
I recently read The New Weird (http://www.amazon.com/New-Weird-Ann-VanderMeer/dp/1892391554/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218748676&sr=1-1)http:// and it had a story by Steph Swainston, after i read it i just went "Wow" and then i saw it was an outtake of a novel she wrote and immediately reserved it at the library  :D


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: cuddlebug on August 15, 2008, 04:23:59 AM

My biggest gripe against the story is a problem I have with a lot of Escape Artists productions; that is, that it was hard for my imagination to keep pace with the reading. When a story has as many fantastical elements as this one, I find that I would need to pause for a moment, slow down my reading a bit, to wrap my imagination around what's going on.

I don't mean that as an indictment of the reading; it's just a comment on the nature of the beast.

... and that is exactly why I DIDN'T LIKE this story. When reading the comments posted here in the forum I kept thinking, 'what ... where was that ... I missed that', completely missed the sex-scene for one. This is not a criticism of the story or the -casts in general, as ryos seems to imply, it just is an indication of how I listen to audio fiction and that certain stories I simply cannot listen to on my way to work walking along roads where I have to pay attention to the traffic or the people, who might be friends or co-workers. I guess, being still relatively new to audio-fiction I have not acquired the skills necessary to split my attention and focus on the audio while ignoring the visual, which has always been a predominant sense to me.

I will have to listen to this one again, curled up on my couch, giving enough space to my imagination and I might get a completely different impression. So I guess this is just an example of how outside factors can play an essential role in how we perceive a story. Many other stories I have listened to on my way to work were perfectly fine, but this one was simply too dense and requires my FULL ATTENTION. which maybe speaks for the story rather than against it.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: contra on August 15, 2008, 06:49:05 AM
My fav podcastle yet.  : D

I always like things that jump around in time, I have no idea why.  Maybe I enjoy the speculation.  Doing it like this, worked very well, and I'm glad it wasn't what I feared, that he was just looking back over his life from death.  That is a good thing.

All the characters had interesting abilities, absorbing parts of things you eat. bleh.  Seeing an animal living when its on your plate, cooked.  All good images and ideas that I will carry onwards from this story forever.

Also I liked then end.  heh heh

But I cannot discount the influence / horror that Bonekickers finale I watched last night, may have ravaged my brain (words cannot describe how bad the ending was); so I was very much in the mood for a good Artherian tale.  This fit the bill very well.



Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Sylvan on August 15, 2008, 09:54:52 AM
"Cup and Table" was an amazing story and I'm glad to come back to posting in the forums after so long away.  (Granted, I usually only post when I have something to say and -about this tale- that's the case.)

I think that what makes this story so strong isn't just that it's about the Grail but that it deals with epic-scope events in a well-paced manner without feeling short-changed.  Additionally, the cast of characters is simply amazing.  These are a group of diverse individuals I could see as well as hear:  that's impressive for a spoken-word story!

I know that some folk have voiced their disatisfaction with the ending, but -for me- that's one of the high points.  I enjoy not putting words in God's mouth and leaving it up to the reader to think about things.  After all, the story isn't about answers:  it's about the Quest to find them.  Having God sum up the meaning of life, the Universe, and everything in any answer other than "42" would seem cheap and like tawdry prosthletyzing.  By focusing on the journey and not the destination, the author lets the reader come to personal conclusions that last long after the story ends.

For me, at least, that's the hallmark of brilliant writing:  to linger in the reader's mind.

Well done!

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Roney on August 15, 2008, 04:41:39 PM
But I cannot discount the influence / horror that Bonekickers finale I watched last night, may have ravaged my brain (words cannot describe how bad the ending was)

Indeed.  Let us never speak of it again.  People told me that it had become more entertaining after the dreadful first episode, but I think that last one may even have been worse.  Note to foreign viewers: stay away from Bonekickers if the BBC manages to sucker your network execs into buying it.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Heradel on August 15, 2008, 04:43:50 PM
But I cannot discount the influence / horror that Bonekickers finale I watched last night, may have ravaged my brain (words cannot describe how bad the ending was)

Indeed.  Let us never speak of it again.  People told me that it had become more entertaining after the dreadful first episode, but I think that last one may even have been worse.  Note to foreign viewers: stay away from Bonekickers if the BBC manages to sucker your network execs into buying it.

They lost me at the snake.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: slic on August 17, 2008, 02:56:32 PM
I enjoyed the story quite a bit - nothing to add that isn't already posted.

And I'll go on record as saying I really enjoyed the intro.  The PC staff has been getting a lot of flack about overlong intros that spoil story content or themes.  This intro was long, and tangentially related, but I think Ann did it right.  She gave solid background material that gave a context for the story in the history of literature, without saying anything about this story in particular or it's take on things.  And the intro was enjoyable in it's own right, as the story of her growing appreciation of the Arthurian legends.  Maybe it helps that I'm also a bit Arthur obsessed, and have also read a lot of the modern versions and original sources. 

It worked for me just because I could tell Ann was geeking out about it.  And even though I'm not a huge Arthurian nut (I mean I like it and all, but that's it), hearing someone so honestly geeking out about it was fun. 
For those interested in other Arthurian stories of a sci-fi nature, let me direct your attention to Camelot 3000 (http://www.amazon.com/Camelot-3000-Comics-Mike-Barr/dp/0930289307/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219002396&sr=8-2).  Written by Mike Barr and drawn by Brian Bolland it is quite good - they even work the Holy Grail in to the story quite significantly, Ann, so it's even got that going for it.  Though the ending is just a tiny bit lame.  Written over 20 years ago, it's still fun and pretty inexpensive.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: stePH on August 17, 2008, 04:52:47 PM
For those interested in other Arthurian stories of a sci-fi nature, let me direct your attention to Camelot 3000 (http://www.amazon.com/Camelot-3000-Comics-Mike-Barr/dp/0930289307/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219002396&sr=8-2).  Written by Mike Barr and drawn by Brian Bolland it is quite good - they even work the Holy Grail in to the story quite significantly, Ann, so it's even got that going for it.  Though the ending is just a tiny bit lame.  Written over 20 years ago, it's still fun and pretty inexpensive.

I managed to collect the first eight or nine issues as they were first being published, but kicked the comic habit before the end.  I'll see if any local public library has a trade paperback collection, as that's my preferred way to read comics.  (I'd give up my left testicle for a single-volume edition of The Incal but I don't think such a book exists.)


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: MacArthurBug on August 18, 2008, 08:52:47 AM
Overall I really really liked this one. Snd liking this is something of a big deal for me since I burned out on King Arthur/Merlin/KotRT stories YEARS ago. However I've one complaint: ANOTHER story about drug addicts? Really? Bah I'm really sick of this. It's not just Mr. Pratt, and he did it REALLY well. But I'm really really tired of druggie/drugged/addicted characters. *sigh*


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Lionman on August 18, 2008, 10:39:25 AM
I'm trying to merge the threads and maintain post order, but it was looking pretty ugly. Work In Progress.

Wow, I didn't even notice that it wasn't a regular thread until now. How was Lionman able to create it?

Apparently this section's tag that says Mods-Only got left off. It's great that he, and all of you, want to talk about the story, but trying to merge threads gets really ugly because we can't change post order (it's locked to the time of the posting). Anyway, this is the best solution without going into the DB and changing post times, so this interlude over, back to the story.

Thus, I stand as a testiment to both being a n00b in this forum, and the power of not knowing what you can't [or aren't supposed to] do!  I plead ignorance, but am really glad I didn't get pounced for making a mistake like that.  Besides, I really did want to make a positive contribution about the story.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: stePH on August 18, 2008, 10:51:51 AM
Overall I really really liked this one. Snd liking this is something of a big deal for me since I burned out on King Arthur/Merlin/KotRT stories YEARS ago. However I've one complaint: ANOTHER story about drug addicts? Really? Bah I'm really sick of this. It's not just Mr. Pratt, and he did it REALLY well. But I'm really really tired of druggie/drugged/addicted characters. *sigh*

I think that what all the Escape Artists podcasts need, is more stories about drug-addicted prostitutes.  At least one a month (per podcast) if not more.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: wintermute on August 18, 2008, 11:38:58 AM
I plead ignorance, but am really glad I didn't get pounced for making a mistake like that.

Hehe. Lionman... pounced...

*giggle*


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Lionman on August 18, 2008, 11:45:35 AM
I plead ignorance, but am really glad I didn't get pounced for making a mistake like that.

Hehe. Lionman... pounced...

*giggle*

*facepalm*

Alright, well, 'pounced' wasn't the right word.  ;)  Should I have used 'jumped' instead?  Mmmm...maybe not.  :D


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: stePH on August 18, 2008, 12:17:02 PM
I plead ignorance, but am really glad I didn't get pounced for making a mistake like that.

Hehe. Lionman... pounced...

*giggle*

*facepalm*

Alright, well, 'pounced' wasn't the right word.  ;)  Should I have used 'jumped' instead?  Mmmm...maybe not.  :D
"Bounced" maybe? 


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Lionman on August 18, 2008, 12:26:19 PM
I plead ignorance, but am really glad I didn't get pounced for making a mistake like that.

Hehe. Lionman... pounced...

*giggle*

*facepalm*

Alright, well, 'pounced' wasn't the right word.  ;)  Should I have used 'jumped' instead?  Mmmm...maybe not.  :D
"Bounced" maybe? 

Ah-hem...er...well, the Cup and Table, right...  Yes, very intersting story.  :D  I enjoyed the idea that it was 'a world before reality' where the God stayed around this time around..  ;D


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Rachel Swirsky on August 18, 2008, 12:28:54 PM
Has PodCastle had any other drug addicts?


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Heradel on August 18, 2008, 12:48:12 PM
Has PodCastle had any other drug addicts?

Osteomancer?


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Rain on August 18, 2008, 12:56:35 PM
Overall I really really liked this one. Snd liking this is something of a big deal for me since I burned out on King Arthur/Merlin/KotRT stories YEARS ago. However I've one complaint: ANOTHER story about drug addicts? Really? Bah I'm really sick of this. It's not just Mr. Pratt, and he did it REALLY well. But I'm really really tired of druggie/drugged/addicted characters. *sigh*

I think that what all the Escape Artists podcasts need, is more stories about drug-addicted prostitutes.  At least one a month (per podcast) if not more.

I can just imagine what kind of response a story like that would get :P


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: wintermute on August 18, 2008, 01:43:21 PM
Has PodCastle had any other drug addicts?

Osteomancer?
The Ant King had addictive gumballs.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: stePH on August 18, 2008, 01:47:06 PM
Has PodCastle had any other drug addicts?

Does "The Osteomancer's Son" count?  Snorting bone powder seems a bit suspicious to me.

 ;D


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Ocicat on August 18, 2008, 05:29:30 PM
Has PodCastle had any other drug addicts?

14 Experiments In Postal Delivery.  Bosch paintings are drugs.   ;)


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: stePH on August 18, 2008, 05:32:06 PM
Has PodCastle had any other drug addicts?

14 Experiments In Postal Delivery.  Bosch paintings are drugs.   ;)

And I don't care how much he loves her ... a man would have to be high to mail a woman his knicky-knacks. :o


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: wintermute on August 19, 2008, 07:05:20 AM
Van Gogh had to get drunk off his nut on absinthe just to mail someone his ear


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Hatton on August 19, 2008, 09:21:18 AM
This was one that I enjoyed from the end to the beginning... I think the command/request was a brilliant wrap to a story in a world gone mad!

Something that I'm finding about a lot of the stories I listen to on EP and PC (I'm not a pseudo listener, not into horror), is that I'd love to see series created out of them.  There are a lot of authors that do a great job quickly creating characters that the audience can sympathize with and want to know more about.  This is one of them - I could seriously see a whole series about the Table and the exploits of their teams around the world.

Of course, if this was the first story and Sigmund's request was granted, the Table would not have the same purpose.  Not saying that it wouldn't exist, since gnostic groups always exist, only that they might be searching for something else.  Damn those paradoxical loops!


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: lateral on August 19, 2008, 10:33:42 AM
Great story, the first one I have listened to more than once.

Overall I really really liked this one. Snd liking this is something of a big deal for me since I burned out on King Arthur/Merlin/KotRT stories YEARS ago. However I've one complaint: ANOTHER story about drug addicts? Really? Bah I'm really sick of this. It's not just Mr. Pratt, and he did it REALLY well. But I'm really really tired of druggie/drugged/addicted characters. *sigh*

I think that what all the Escape Artists podcasts need, is more stories about drug-addicted prostitutes.  At least one a month (per podcast) if not more.

Agreed. It is a refreshing character fault. In this case it even fuels the whole story. More edgy is more good.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: The Dunesteef on August 19, 2008, 05:44:30 PM
I liked this one a lot.  Then again, that's not saying much.  After "Impossible Dreams," all you have to say is Tim Pratt, and I'm there.  I love his stuff.  This one seemed like an effed up X-men to me.  I agree with hatton, it would make a good series.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: stePH on August 19, 2008, 10:19:27 PM
I do have to say that  I was really lukewarm about this story until the end.  I liked how everyone who wanted to find the cup for his or his own purposes didn't get to it.  Instead, the one person who had no idea what he wanted out of God found it and the only thing he could think of was to ask God to stay.  I loved that ending. 

That reminds me of the Revolutionary Girl Utena manga (and to a lesser extent, the anime.)  All those who wanted to win the Rose Bride ultimately failed; Utena only wanted to set her free, and succeeded.

I think I like the end of this story a little better now.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: JoeFitz on August 24, 2008, 04:12:30 PM
A little jarring for a story in audio format but fairly well played and enjoyable.

I'm happiest with an ambiguous reading of the ending - as in Sigmund was simply getting ready to ask his real question or command.

Frankly, however, the Arthurian reading did positively zero for my enjoyment of the story. It struck me as an exercise for literary analysts. Sometimes, Sigmund, a cigar is just a cigar. [Obtuse mixing intentional]



Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Anarkey on August 27, 2008, 07:42:43 PM
I liked this one a lot.  Then again, that's not saying much.  After "Impossible Dreams," all you have to say is Tim Pratt, and I'm there. 

I liked this one a lot too, but for me it's the opposite reaction.  After "Impossible Dreams" all you have to say is Tim Pratt and I groan and whimper.  Still, this story was awesome on a staggering number of levels, and very satisfying.  So I guess I can upgrade Tim Pratt from "God no, not again, please, someone help me" to "Damn he's either going to hit it out of the park or make me want to claw my eyes out.  Wonder which it will be this time?"


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Rachel Swirsky on August 27, 2008, 07:49:57 PM
Quote
So I guess I can upgrade Tim Pratt from "God no, not again, please, someone help me" to "Damn he's either going to hit it out of the park or make me want to claw my eyes out.  Wonder which it will be this time?"

Impossible Dreams isn't my cup of tea either (I read it in Asimov's when it was initially published, and was not wowed. Later, when I found out it was a Hugo winner, I was confused). I strongly recommend you pick up Pratt's collection HART & BOOT. He has a lot of strong work; he's extremely good at plotting and writing stories that are compelling and neatly written, while grabbing and keeping the attention. I think he's an extremely accomplished storyteller.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Windup on August 29, 2008, 04:29:48 PM

This was awesome, especially the end.  I don't have much to add to what's already been said, but I do have a question: Is the world we're living in the original timeline of the story, or the new one created when God stays?

I also throughly enjoyed the intro on this one.  I've geeked out a bit on the Arthur stories a bit in my time -- among other things, I've performed a version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Tennyson's Sir Galahad from memory on stage. (And yes, I realize those are both very late additions to the story collection -- I had audience accessability to consider.) When I last left the discussion over the origins of the Arthur tales, the exact origin of Le Morte D'Arthur was unknown, or at least highly debateable.  The sources I remember all allowed for the possibility that Mallory's self-description of "translating a French book" was correct, but at that time, no one had identified the original text.  Is that a change in the last 20 years or so?


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: hautdesert on August 29, 2008, 04:54:18 PM
  The sources I remember all allowed for the possibility that Mallory's self-description of "translating a French book" was correct, but at that time, no one had identified the original text.  Is that a change in the last 20 years or so?

Maybe?  I know there's some question about Chretien--did Malory claim he was translating?  Chretien certainly did claim he was working from an older book, one that's never been found--specifically, he made that claim for the Lancelot, saying, if I recall correctly, that his patron Marie de Champagne had given it to him.  I don't recall hearing that there was much controversy about Malory's source being (largely) the Lancelot-Grail (or, as it was called when I started reading about the subject, the Vulgate Lancelot).

SGGK is one of my faves, guess that's kind of obvious.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Windup on August 29, 2008, 05:18:55 PM
  The sources I remember all allowed for the possibility that Mallory's self-description of "translating a French book" was correct, but at that time, no one had identified the original text.  Is that a change in the last 20 years or so?

Maybe?  I know there's some question about Chretien--did Malory claim he was translating? 


That's how I remember it, but it has been a while and I can't recall a specific source for that comment.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: hautdesert on August 30, 2008, 09:36:14 AM
I don't know the text of Malory as well as I know Chretien.  I do know that the two Quests for the Holy Grail are close enough that I'd be surprised there was any sort of controversy over the Queste (the Lancelot Grail's Holy Grail volume) being the source for Malory's.  And the same with the Morte--the last book of the LG.

The wikipedia entry on Le Morte D'Arthur (Malory's, not the last volume of the LG) says he also used some English sources, and also added his own stuff.

The question of Chretien's source, on the other hand, is, I'm pretty sure, still an open question.

Eyes may glaze over, here, so, be warned.

Chretien claimed in the introduction to "Lancelot, or, The Knight of the Cart" that he had his story from Marie de Champagne.  I seem to recall he'd said she'd given him a book, but my translation, now I look at it, only says she'd given him the material.  At the time he was writing, it was fashionable to claim that you had some ancient source--it gave your work authenticity and weight, the idea of being "original" wasn't valued the same way we tend to these days.  So there's every possibility that there never was any such book.  Add in the fact that this happens to be the first appearance of Lancelot--Chretien obviously did a lot of inventing.

But Chretien didn't make the story up--it's the abduction of Guenevere, and there are at least two older versions.  Neither of them includes Lancelot, of course.  Either or both might have been Chretien's source, but there's no way of knowing for sure.  One is a Life of Gildas, and the other is actually only a carving in the wall--an archivolt, actually--of a church in Modena, so that one probably wasn't his source, exactly, but the artist obviously got the story from somewhere else.

Tanget time!  The Modena Archivolt has no sign of Lancelot--but Gawain is there.  And Gawain appears in Chretien's Lancelot.  He attempts a rescue, but fails. It strikes me as likely that Gawain was the original hero of the story Chretien was working from. Interestingly, the same is true in Chretien's Perceval--Gawain is also out looking.  Chretien never finished it, but in the later continuations and adapatations, including the version most commonly known now, Gawain fails.  Sometimes miserably.  There was a time when Gawain was the supreme knight, the model of courtesy and bravery, but as time went by he became less admired. In the Lancelot Grail, he's treated very badly.

(In a part of the intro that Steve cut, I said that most Arthurian enthusiasts I'd run into had a favorite knight.  Mine happens to be Sir Gawain.  So I have little patience with the way the author of the LG (and ultimately Malory) makes Gawain's courtesy a sign of corruption,  a sign that he's too bound up with the world to recognize spiritual things.  The Gawain of the LG is venal and vengeful, rather that courteous and brave.  It's done partly to make Galahad--the invention of the LG author--look better.)

No one's ever found a source for the Grail story, either, beyond Chretien.  But I wonder if he had a source, and if Gawain was originally the hero of that story?  There's no way of knowing, really, but it's interesting to ponder.  If the topic interests one, of course.  ;)




Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Hilary Moon Murphy on September 02, 2008, 11:08:23 PM
Quote
So I guess I can upgrade Tim Pratt from "God no, not again, please, someone help me" to "Damn he's either going to hit it out of the park or make me want to claw my eyes out.  Wonder which it will be this time?"

Impossible Dreams isn't my cup of tea either (I read it in Asimov's when it was initially published, and was not wowed. Later, when I found out it was a Hugo winner, I was confused). I strongly recommend you pick up Pratt's collection HART & BOOT. He has a lot of strong work; he's extremely good at plotting and writing stories that are compelling and neatly written, while grabbing and keeping the attention. I think he's an extremely accomplished storyteller.

Oh my Goodness, I am laughing at the "Wonder which it will be this time?" comment.  I went to Clarion with Tim, and came to three conclusions:

1) He's annoyingly fast and prolific.  (At Clarion, he turned out most of his short stories in two hours or less.  It was... frightening.)   :D

2) He is not only an awesome writing God, but a darn sweet person too.

3) He is always pushing out of his comfort zone as a writer -- this means that he is continually experimenting.  While some of his experiments do not work for me, he has turned out some absolutely amazing stories that just warp with your head. 


This one warped with my head in the best way possible.  Thank you so much for running it.

Hmm


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Ragtime on September 05, 2008, 10:51:09 AM
With August a very busy month, I am way behind, but the wonder of the podcast is that it will sit on my Ipod forever, so . . .

Anyway, the title "Cup and Table."  Kind of odd since we are talking about the "Grail", and there is not actually a table of any significance involved.

The first thing I thought of was an old episode of the TV show "Good Times," in which the youngest son (Michael?) makes the argument that standardized tests are racist, and gives the example that poor, black people don't know the word "saucer" (because they don't own them), so get the question "cup and ______" wrong -- picking "cup and table" instead of "cup and saucer".

Yeah.  So that has absolutely nothing to do with the story at all, but I expected it to.  Because of the title, which, while I can see that it is clearly related to the subject matter, is kind of a weird title based on the contents.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: wintermute on September 05, 2008, 11:59:41 AM
Anyway, the title "Cup and Table."  Kind of odd since we are talking about the "Grail", and there is not actually a table of any significance involved.
Only if you don't count The Table, the organisation that all the characters work for, and is probably intended to be descended from the Round Table


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: stePH on September 05, 2008, 03:28:34 PM
Anyway, the title "Cup and Table."  Kind of odd since we are talking about the "Grail", and there is not actually a table of any significance involved.
Only if you don't count The Table, the organisation that all the characters work for, and is probably intended to be descended from the Round Table
Wht h sd.

Mod:Disemvoweled (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disemvoweling)


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: robertmarkbram on December 27, 2008, 09:38:15 PM
Phage, witch, time traveller, golem made of evil and mystic librarians - what a team!

My favourite character was Carlsbad, with the line: "That's it then. Only the evil in YouTube is keeping me alive".

Brilliant!

Definitely my favourite PodCastle of all time, and in my top 5 of any Escape Artist story. The pure fancy of it all is astounding - for me, Tim Pratt captured the very essence of speculative fiction within a relatively modern day Earth setting in a way that pushed all the right buttons for me, just like a few others I remember: Pseudopod 045: Goon Job (http://pseudopod.org/2007/07/06/pseudopod-045-goon-job/) (by G.W. Thomas, read by Ben Phillips), Pseudopod 052: That Old Black Magic (http://pseudopod.org/2007/08/24/pseudopod-052-that-old-black-magic/) (by John R. Platt, read by George Hrab) and Pseudopod 77: Merlin’s Bane (http://pseudopod.org/2008/02/15/pseudopod-77-merlins-bane/) (by G.W. Thomas, read by Ben Phillips).

The Aurthurian roots of this story give it an edge that could easily place this story in Psuedopod as well, just like the three I mentioned above. The Table appears as an ancient, venerable secret and shrinking society that has essentially come to ruins. Its ultimate purpose having been waylaid by the vicissitudes brought on by the need for making money and the disparate goals of the latest members of the group.

I must say that Stephen's reading of this was good, but not right for this story. This story really wanted a little more production - I know, not a thing Escape Artist fiction goes for. Variant Frequencies would have done a top notch job on this story. I kept re-winding this story every ten minutes because the action was so fascinating, the characterisations so enthralling, that I needed to hear them again and again before going on, just so that I could try and fix in my mind what things would look and sound like. This part from Ray really set me off: "Ray popped a wasp into his mouth, chewed, swallowed ... his voice was accompanied by a deep angry buzz, a sort of wasp whispering that was in harmony with the normal workings of his voice box." The description of his voice was screaming out for a touch of special effect underneath. :)

And who wouldn't love to see Carlsbad in a movie with this scene? "And then he did what the Table always counted on him to do. He swelled. He stormed. He smashed. He tore Ray to pieces, and then he tore up the pieces." Wow!

Rob
:)


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: stePH on December 29, 2008, 09:19:24 AM
Wht h sd.

Mod:Disemvoweled (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disemvoweling)

Why?  ???


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Heradel on December 29, 2008, 10:13:46 AM
Wht h sd.

Mod:Disemvoweled (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disemvoweling)

Why?  ???

One too many "What He Said"'s in a short period makes Heradel grab for the disemvoweler. A post to agree with someone is fine, but a bunch of three word ones in a spurt just starts to give the impression of cruft. Wasn't just you, this is just the one that put me over.


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Rachel Swirsky on January 08, 2009, 05:15:48 PM
I figured Heradel was also pointing out the limits of disemvoweling. I laughed when I saw it because the point of disemvoweling is supposed to be to make the post unintelligible, right? But it's a cinch to know what Steph meant. ;)

Best,
R


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Unblinking on December 31, 2009, 04:17:56 PM
Now that I've caught up on Podcastle, I can say that this is my favorite Podcastle episode yet.  It works on so many levels and I am simply in awe.  I'm sure much of the reason for it is that X-Men is my favorite superhero universe so teams of superpowered people gets me interested right away.  And then to make those people the less-than-moral knights of the modern Round Table--Fantastic!  Each of the characters was interesting and not yet cliched by superhero stories (which is hard to think up sometimes).  I especially enjoyed the phage's borrowed powers--where do I sign up?  Non-chronological tellings are often tricky, usually leaving my poor brain addled and confused, but this one was not only intelligible, but the ordering really enhanced the story, allowing past events to be played without resorting to a dozen flashbacks (they're not flashbacks if we experience them in the same order as the protag).  And, as if that all wasn't enough, then the ending just had me floored.  Okay, I didn't understand the import of his words the first time through, and had to rewind and listen again, but THEN it floored me. 

Epic win!


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Unblinking on January 04, 2010, 07:20:19 AM
This made #1 on my list of Best of Podcastle stories on my new post.  :)

http://www.diabolicalplots.com/?p=990


Title: Re: PC020: Cup and Table
Post by: Unblinking on October 06, 2014, 03:49:33 PM
This made my #17 on my favorite podcast fiction of all time
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/07/the-best-podcast-fiction-of-all-time-the-complete-list/

And my #2 fave Podcastle of all time:
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/10/podcast-spotlight-podcastle/