Escape Artists

PodCastle => Episode Comments => Topic started by: Heradel on June 29, 2010, 12:51:24 PM



Title: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Heradel on June 29, 2010, 12:51:24 PM
PodCastle 111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun (http://podcastle.org/2010/06/29/podcastle-111-and-their-lips-rang-with-the-sun/)

by Amal El-Mohtar (http://tithenai.livejournal.com/)
Read by N.K. Jemisin (http://nkjemisin.com/)
Originally Published in Strange Horizons (http://www.strangehorizons.com/index.shtml).

There was once a Sun-woman, glorious as any of them, named Lam. She was nimble, lithe; she was all of eighteen, quite in her prime, while her bright-eyed acolyte had only just learned the sacred alphabet off by heart. She was a sensible teacher, and differed from her sisters in only one respect.

It was her custom, once the dawn-dance was done, to look out to the very farthest reaches of the horizon and imagine how far the fingers of the Rising Sun could reach, what they touched where her gaze failed. And when the evening was shaken out like a sheet between the arms of her sisters, then, too, rather than look to the closing of her palms, she would chase the last ray of the Sun as it vanished over the desert and the mountains, and wonder where She went, where She slept, and in whose bed.

These were unnecessary thoughts for a Sun-woman to have, to be sure, but perhaps none had loved the Sun quite so completely as she.

It happened one afternoon that Lam looked out, as was her wont, towards the west, and wondered. But while she thought her puzzle-thoughts, she became aware of eyes on her, and looked down to the great square before the temple of the Sun.

Rated PG: Contains Stories for Travelers Who May or May not be Passing Through

Read the text here (http://www.strangehorizons.com/2009/20091005/sun-f.shtml).


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: DKT on June 29, 2010, 03:47:39 PM
For anyone interested in reading the interview mentioned in the outro, it can be found here (http://marshallpayne1.livejournal.com/90708.html).

Enjoy!


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Talia on June 29, 2010, 03:50:58 PM
Oh goody, my favorite author from the short fiction contest. *hop*


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: ElectricPaladin on June 29, 2010, 06:27:01 PM
*Grumble grumble*... lose my post, will you? Well, I'll post it again. That'll show you!

*Ahem*

This story is with only very little doubt, the best story I've heard on Podcastle in a while. It had everything! It was sexy, sad, striking, touching, and beautiful. The craft was excellent - each word was perfectly chosen and perfectly placed. The setting it presented was wonderfully compelling, the kind of place I'd love to read or hear more of. Most importantly, the author did an extraordinarily good job of giving us an idea of the characters in a very short time.

All-around wonderful. I give it five Zeppelins out of five.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Unblinking on June 30, 2010, 08:33:24 AM
I'm very glad to see Amal here after reading the 2 Podcastle flash entries.  Cool!

That being said, this story didn't do much for me.  It's certainly well written, but I just didn't get a sense of tension.  From the very beginning it seemed like a tale told to a stranger by the woman, nothing that evokes real tension from me.  The tie-in at the end came too late to make much difference to me, and also the wording made it seem rather sinister "You say you're moving on, but I'm quite strong, remember?"  One thing that bugged me is that the fact of her strength was not revealed until that trait became pivotal.  She sneaks up behind him and incapacitates him.  Oh by the way, she's super buff.  It explains this by her being a dancer, and a professional dancer would certainly be athletic, but there's no reason she would have developed the particular muscle groups or skills for hand to hand combat, especially when she lives in a posh palace and he lives on the street.  I'm sure she could crack walnuts with her legs but that doesn't instantly translate to combat against a larger opponent used to life on the street.  In any case, if this had been revealed early on in the story instead of at the exact moment it was needed, then it would've been easier to accept.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Reed on June 30, 2010, 02:43:26 PM
Hi! So, this is my first post here. I've been listening to PodCastle for quite a while and left a comment once in a while when it was still possible without registering, and just felt like hitting the forum today.  ;)

I liked the story quite a bit, though at first I thought I would not. The beginning seemed like one of those stories that wallowed in describing a metophorized culture without any plot, which is not the type of fantasy I enjoy very much. I still think this part could have been shorter, but the whole thing improved greatly when the story of Nam started. At that point the rich language really built up tension beautifully.
The ending was fine, though I felt it could have been a bit shorter as well. Perhaps the story could even have stopped when the traveller unbinds his head - the resolution was clear enough at that point.

As for Nam's physical strength, it didn't bother me. I didn't get the impression, the moon man put up much of a fight anyhow, so it would be sufficient for her to be fit - which is plausible -, not super strong.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Talia on June 30, 2010, 10:03:37 PM
I shoulda guessed she was a poet. :)

Beautifully written, although the whole "narrator talking to the audience" style is not one of my personal favorite styles. An interesting world setup. So many cultures of our present world have had or do have rituals involving things like the sun rising, seasons turning, etc, and its a neat twist to offer "well.. what if that isn't just superstition?". An elegantly portrayed world. I dug the bit of Arabic linguistic/cultural insight in the outro as well.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Unblinking on July 01, 2010, 09:16:32 AM
Welcome, Reed!

As for Nam's physical strength, it didn't bother me. I didn't get the impression, the moon man put up much of a fight anyhow, so it would be sufficient for her to be fit - which is plausible -, not super strong.

I didn't really have a problem with her being strong, but the choice to reveal this only at the moment when her strength is important.  Imagine a different story: 
Bob is walking down the street, distracted by thoughts of his upcoming date later that evening.  He's not walking anywhere in particular, just letting his feet carry him wherever they want to go.  Suddenly he realizes he's turned down an alley, a dead end.  He turns to go back to the street, but a burly man with a knife stands in his way.  Bob tries to talk to the man, but he doesn't listen, eyes glazed, as he waves his knive with frenetic energy.  Oh no, he thinks, what am I going to do?  The man with the knife lunges and Bob pulls out the gun from the waistband of his jeans and shoots the mugger between the eyes.

If I were reading this I would say at this point "What gun?"--if the gun had been mentioned earlier on, then its presence wouldn't suddenly be sprung at the moment it's needed.  I'd say the same is true of this story (though not to this exaggerated degree).  It would've been easy to mention her strength earlier in the story, in a more natural way instead of adding a "by the way, she was super-buff" right at the moment of her NEEDING to be super-buff.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: nojojojo on July 01, 2010, 10:17:00 AM
Okay, wasn't going to say anything in this thread since I was the reader for the story, but I'm kind of puzzled here.

Unblinking, what point in the story are you referring to when you say that Lam's strength was hidden 'til the last minute?  The line you reference, her saying "I am still strong, you see, still quite strong for my age, and will not hear of your only passing through" -- she's an elderly woman, trying to assure him that she's still healthy and not about to keel over dead.  She's trying to encourage her long-lost son to stay with her for awhile and tell her about his father and everything of his life.  Is that the line you're reading as "sinister"? 

Or are you talking about the moment when, as a younger woman, she jumped her lover-to-be as he emerged from the Moon cultist house?  (Reed, I think this is the moment you're referring to?)  That was about halfway through the story.  But the story says from the beginning that the girls are trained in dance practically from birth, and Lam was in her prime, so why would it be a surprise that she's strong?  All dancers are strong.  (Look at this woman's (http://iwilcope.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/822ailey05.jpg) arms.)  So I can certainly buy that Lam was strong enough to overpower her lover.  This didn't need to be stated because it was obvious to me.  Dancer in her prime = top notch athlete.

Not that she really needed to overpower him, though. The story doesn't mention him struggling at all, once he figures out who she is.

And since I'm here, I might as well mention my own thoughts on the story -- I loved it.  And hopefully people can hear that in my reading, because I found this story an absolute joy to read out loud.  Like reading poetry, which is especially apropos given Ms. El Mohtar's other calling. 

I was kind of confused by the intro, though.  If I hadn't known what was coming, I think I would've been thrown by all the description of Cahokia, the ancient pre-Columbus American empire, prior to a story set in an ancient fantasy Arabic culture.  The intro had me craving a story set in a fantasy mound-building society.  (Hn. Maybe I should try writing one of those.)


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: hautdesert on July 01, 2010, 10:32:58 AM

I was kind of confused by the intro, though.  If I hadn't known what was coming, I think I would've been thrown by all the description of Cahokia, the ancient pre-Columbus American empire, prior to a story set in an ancient fantasy Arabic culture. 

I didn't want to talk about the stuff Dave mentioned in the outro, cause I thought that would be better after the story, and I was sort of free-associating "sun, sun...hmmm" and my brain landed on Cahokia.  They show a short film at the Interpretive Center (you can see it on the website, too (http://cahokiamounds.org/explore/video)) called "Cahokia: City of the Sun."  And I thought, "well, the connection is very, very tenuous, but more people should know about Cahokia."  So I went with it.

 
Quote
The intro had me craving a story set in a fantasy mound-building society.  (Hn. Maybe I should try writing one of those.)

My work here is done!

edited to add---Here's a pretty good book to check out if anyone's interested:  Cahokia: Ancient America's Great City on the Mississippi (http://www.amazon.com/Cahokia-Ancient-Americas-Mississippi-American/dp/0670020907/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277998566&sr=8-1).


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: DKT on July 01, 2010, 10:46:37 AM
Regarding Lam's strength: Aside from being incredibly strong and agile just from being trained as a dancer (which I think both Nojojojo and Unblinking have acknowledged), here's a line from the second paragraph of the story.

Quote
These girls, these women with their slender necks and sloping shoulders, they heft their spears high into the air as they sing the morning up, clash shaft against head in a dawn dance that scatters clouds and rains light on the city below.

Knowing that these dancers are hefting spears and clashing them against other spears wielded by other dancers, well, it just emphasizes they're hella tough to me. And like I said, that's in the second paragraph. (Link to the text in the original post.)

That said, I took from the story pretty much what Nojojojo did. At the end, she's not suggesting to fight her long lost son, and in the middle, her lover didn't put up much of a struggle - in fact, he was totally up for being ambushed by her. Look at this section:

Quote
How else to say that she gleaned the knowledge of how his teeth made a flute of his breath the way her bells made music of hers? They kissed till she tasted his blood where her bells cut him, till his back warmed the stone she pressed him against, till she knew the shape of his limbs like she knew her alphabet. She pushed him back into the house with the strange domed roof and tore the black from his body, kissed his page-pale skin until she'd inked a scripture of cuts and bruises along it.

Jealous lovesick troubadors indeed.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Unblinking on July 01, 2010, 01:36:35 PM
Unblinking, what point in the story are you referring to when you say that Lam's strength was hidden 'til the last minute?

In the middle when she sneaks up on him.  At that moment she takes an aside in the middle of the action to say something like "by the way, the girl was very strong".  The way she says it implies to me that this was new and important information, important enough to interrupt an action sequence to tell me about it.  the way she says it also seemed to imply that she was unusually strong, even for a dancer.  If she had simply said nothing about her strength, I would not have thought twice about it since she is physically fit and had the element of surprise to boot.  If she had mentioned earlier that she was quite strong, then I would've already had this information.  But since the first mention is within the "ambush" (I use quotes because she didn't exactly have harmful intentions) it implied to me that this was information was of vital importance to the actions at hand, and it was jarring for me.

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Is that the line you're reading as "sinister"?

The line at the end when she is elderly is the one I read as sinister.  I understand why she doesn't want him to leave: he's her long lost son after all.  But her way to convince him is "Don't try to leave, or I'll hurt you."  At least that's how I read it.  It seemed very out of place with the rest of the story.

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So I can certainly buy that Lam was strong enough to overpower her lover.  This didn't need to be stated because it was obvious to me.

I can buy that dancers are strong, no problem there.  I would've thought the strength would've been primarily concentrated in her legs, but DKT's mention of the spear-hefting makes perfect sense--not that strength necessarily translates to skill in combat, but that's another discussion entirely.  But if there's no reason that this needs to be stated why does it need to be stated in the middle of an action sequence?  That flagged it in my mind as making her unusually strong, inhumanly strong.  If her strength is unnatural/unusual, then it could've been mentioned earlier on during the long introduction (the fact that it was unusual was further backed up by the threat at the end).  If it wasn't unnatural/unusual, then why mention it at that action-packed juncture at all?
 
Quote
Not that she really needed to overpower him, though. The story doesn't mention him struggling at all, once he figures out who she is.

Which just made it all the more jarring for me.  If you're sneaking up behind someone who really wants to see you, why is the unnatural strength even relevant?   It's therefore even more out of place.

Anyway, you certainly don't have to agree with me.  It just seemed to me that the strength was set up to be a major plot point, and unusual, as it was mentioned during an action sequence and repeated again at the end as the resolution of the story.  And if it was meant to have that importance, it didn't make sense to first mention it during the action sequence.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Unblinking on July 01, 2010, 01:38:43 PM
At the end, she's not suggesting to fight her long lost son,

So... why does she once again mention how strong she is?  It struck me as a threat for what she would do to him if he didn't agree to stay and talk some more.  I'm not sure how else it can be interpreted.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Talia on July 01, 2010, 01:50:11 PM
I believe at the end she meant to imply she had the stamina to deal with a longer visit, but the story is suggesting she's trying to reassure herself she has the emotional strength to deal with the sudden and unexpected reunion.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: DKT on July 01, 2010, 01:57:40 PM
I believe at the end she meant to imply she had the stamina to deal with a longer visit, but the story is suggesting she's trying to reassure herself she has the emotional strength to deal with the sudden and unexpected reunion.

Just jumping into say essentially what Talia said. I personally didn't read (or hear) that last line as a threat. Just more of a "I'm strong enough to deal with finally finding you, my son: and want you to stay for much longer."


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: mbrennan on July 01, 2010, 02:00:59 PM
I was confused by the intro bringing up Cahokia, too.  Somebody write me a mound-builder fantasy, stat!

(Now I'm trying to remember the name of the novel I read, that was set at Cahokia.  I don't think it was fantasy, though.  This was for an archaeology class.)

Anyway, I thought this story was just beautiful.  I don't mind leisurely, semi-plotless openings -- here is this fantasy world; I will now describe it to you -- if the description is elegant enough, and what's being described is interesting enough.  This one more than qualified.  And the outro, about the letters, was fascinating.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Unblinking on July 01, 2010, 02:12:59 PM
Just jumping into say essentially what Talia said. I personally didn't read (or hear) that last line as a threat. Just more of a "I'm strong enough to deal with finally finding you, my son: and want you to stay for much longer."

That makes much more sense in context, but wow I didn't glean that meaning in the slightest.  If I remember correctly, she started the line with "let me remind you", which for me harkened back to the original mention of physical strength.  I don't remember her explicitly mentioning herself having emotional strength/stamina, so if that was the intent then the reminder seems to be a null pointer (seg fault!).


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Unblinking on July 01, 2010, 02:16:04 PM
Unless the reminder is saying that physical strength implies emotional strength... But that seems to be both counterintuitive and unsupported by many people I've known.

So the end still sounds like a threat to me.  It'd be interesting to hear what the author's intent was.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: nojojojo on July 01, 2010, 04:40:50 PM
Unblinking, what point in the story are you referring to when you say that Lam's strength was hidden 'til the last minute?
In the middle when she sneaks up on him. 

Ah, gotcha.  The specific line you paraphrased is at the very end, so I was confused.

Quote
The line at the end when she is elderly is the one I read as sinister.  I understand why she doesn't want him to leave: he's her long lost son after all.  But her way to convince him is "Don't try to leave, or I'll hurt you."  At least that's how I read it.  It seemed very out of place with the rest of the story.

Wow, that's so far from the reading I took that now I'm worried there was something wrong with the way I read it.  I was trying so hard to do justice to the story that maybe I overdid it.  :(

Quote
I can buy that dancers are strong, no problem there.  I would've thought the strength would've been primarily concentrated in her legs,

Not a dancer, though I had ballet inflicted on me for 3 years in childhood... but this much I do know:  dancing is a total body workout.  A dancer's strength has to be spread evenly over the whole frame, including the core, or injuries result.  (That's partly why I quit ballet, actually -- weak abs, could never handle en pointe.  The other reason I quit is that I hated ballet and wanted to take kung fu instead, but my mom wouldn't let me.  I digress.)  It really doesn't matter whether the dancers heft anything; the simple act of holding the arms in various positions for the length of a dance is a high-strength activity -- resistance training rather than weight training, though since Lam and her sisters used a spear then they were actually doing both.

The sense I got was that the storyteller mentioned Lam's strength because (as the outro noted) in this society everything having to do with the sun involved qualities that we typically associate with masculinity:  strength, aggression, violence, high status, etc.  But the sun here is female.  While here the moon is masculine, but easily injured, scorned by society, passive. So I think Lam's strength was mentioned for the same reason that Qaf's passivity and injuries are noted -- to emphasize the femininity = strength, masculinity = delicacy dichotomy.

Quote
That flagged it in my mind as making her unusually strong, inhumanly strong.  If her strength is unnatural/unusual, then it could've been mentioned earlier on during the long introduction (the fact that it was unusual was further backed up by the threat at the end).  If it wasn't unnatural/unusual, then why mention it at that action-packed juncture at all?

Wow, I didn't even notice that her strength had been mentioned in that scene, until you pointed it out -- and I read the story five or six times before doing the reading.  But then I didn't think of that scene as remotely "action-packed", either.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Unblinking on July 01, 2010, 04:49:40 PM
Wow, that's so far from the reading I took that now I'm worried there was something wrong with the way I read it.  I was trying so hard to do justice to the story that maybe I overdid it.  :(

I wouldn't worry about it.  I didn't think that your voice sounded sinister, only the words, a veiled threat if anything, and apparently I'm in the minority thinking even that.

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A dancer's strength has to be spread evenly over the whole frame, including the core, or injuries result.

Fair enough, I am no dancer, and I don't know any professional dancers, so that was a hole in my knowledge.  I would still argue that strength does not imply combat skill in the way that line seems to imply.

Quote
Wow, I didn't even notice that her strength had been mentioned in that scene, until you pointed it out -- and I read the story five or six times before doing the reading.  But then I didn't think of that scene as remotely "action-packed", either.

Well, action-packed is a relative term of course.  :)  The action is certainly implied since she is sneaking up on him and apparently incapacitating him--though there's no specific mention of resistance, I still got the impression this took some work.  So far I'm the only one here who's made a big deal about it, so it's probably just me.   ;D


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: danooli on July 01, 2010, 08:36:06 PM
I loved loved loved this story.

There have been PodCastle stories in the past that have been so beautiful I've shed a tear, but this one for some reason, really did it for me.  I like the narration style, it feels a bit like eavesdropping on an interesting conversation.  Although this one would be more of a phone conversation since we only hear the narrators voice.  The story itself had all of the elements I like as well...

There was one element that I keep thinking about.  I've always associated women with the moon and men with the sun.  The complete opposite from this story.  

I also have to add one more thing...the reading was spectacular.  Such a smooth, almost hypnotic and velvet voice that went perfectly with the story.  I could almost taste the spicy tea...


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: kibitzer on July 01, 2010, 10:25:44 PM
A beautiful story. Loved it. The world and beliefs were well-realised without even needing to fully explain them -- they were revealed naturally as the story progressed. Just lovely.

Could I add a plea for shorter intros? I know I can fast-forward through to the story but that involves futzing around with my iPod as I'm walking or driving, which is difficult. Any link to the story was tenuous, at best. Anyway, just a thought.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: LadyDyani on July 02, 2010, 07:06:07 PM
I found this story absolutely fascinating.  My heart broke for Lam, and I was in tears at the end.  Probably wasn't best to listen while I was on the highway, but at least I was almost home by then.

Beautiful.  The best stories leave pictures in my mind that I can recall years later, and I'll definitely have these pictures to remember.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: stePH on July 03, 2010, 10:01:30 AM
I found the intro and outro more interesting than the story itself. The story was so unengaging that I had a hard time paying attention for at least the first twenty minutes, but still got to the end without feeling like I'd missed anything crucial to understanding the story.  Didn't care much for the narrative style either.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: ElectricPaladin on July 03, 2010, 02:00:32 PM
I think it's interesting that so many people had such an opposite reaction to mine. I loved the fact that a story was happening at the same time that a story was happening. It's awesome! At the same time that we're being told the story of how the child was born, we're also experiencing the story of his reunion with his mother. Metanarrative! Story-within-a-story! Excellent and subtle framing techniques! For Science!

Also, I got pleasantly choked up. So cute!


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: alllie on July 03, 2010, 08:04:43 PM
Loved the intro and information about Cahokia. Here is the wikipedia entry for the game mentioned, Chunkey. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chunkey

There are pictures included. I couldn't visualize the target stones till I saw the pictures.

Makes me wonder if the memory of football will outlast our greatest art.

The story didn't quite engage me but maybe that's just me.



Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Listener on July 04, 2010, 09:04:07 AM
Good writing, and I enjoy the concept of framing a story within another story, but I didn't like this story as a whole. I think a lot more could've been done with the fact that the dancers actually make the sun rise for real.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Scattercat on July 04, 2010, 06:19:19 PM
I liked the parthenogenetic dancers, but I was absolutely convinced that the moon boy (Uff?  Eff?) was a girl until we actually got to the moon temple.  I guess if I knew anything about Arabic, I'd not have had that confusion.  I liked the story overall, but it wasn't my very favorite one ever.  I feel like it went on a bit too long in the name of establishing Lam's garrulous nature.

(And I heard the "I am still very strong" as a threat, but a joking threat, i.e. the young man is hardly going to leave now that he's found his long-lost birth mother and she's trying to keep up her tough-talking facade and not break down crying and being "weak" in front of her boy.  It seemed perfectly natural to me, given the type of person Lam is.)


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: rotheche on July 05, 2010, 11:25:49 PM
That's the way I heard it too - not a real threat, just a way of Lam keeping up her facade as she'd done all throughout telling the story.

I enjoyed both story and reading.  The story was slow-paced at the start, but had a lyrical sort of feel to it that matched the pacing: the reading worked just about perfectly as well.



Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Wilson Fowlie on July 06, 2010, 10:14:41 PM
Yeah, that last line made me happy.  I could totally imagine the mischievous smile on Lam's face as she let her son know there was no way she was going to let him leave.

I really enjoyed this story - for me, it got better and better as it went on and I was grinning like an idiot by the ending.

As to the feedback: Regards, Dave!  :)


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: DKT on July 07, 2010, 10:29:14 AM
As to the feedback: Regards, Dave!  :)

En garde, sir!  ;)


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: amalmohtar on July 07, 2010, 10:58:52 AM
Hi there, forumites! I'm so grateful for these comments -- thank you so much, all of you, for sharing your thoughts.

I kind of didn't want to chime in at all, since auctorial intent doesn't count for very much with me, and I love to see how people react to a story without any kind of establishing context -- that said, I really wanted to address this comment:

 
I was absolutely convinced that the moon boy (Uff?  Eff?) was a girl until we actually got to the moon temple.  I guess if I knew anything about Arabic, I'd not have had that confusion. 

I'm glad that Scattercat was convinced Qaf was a girl; it was important to me to keep the stranger's gender hidden because it was irrelevant to Lam's attraction, and I certainly didn't want people to assume the stranger was a man because of Lam's attraction. My anti-heteronormativity, let me show it to you! She would have reacted in precisely the same way had she revealed the stranger as a woman. In some ways I feel there was a missed opportunity here, in that I would have loved to foreground a romantic same-sex relationship (especially given the close quarters in which the sun women live, isolated from most anyone outside the temple), but I opted to go for the reversal of stereotypical gender roles instead, figuring I'd have more space to flesh out different things about this world when I build it into a novel. >.>


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: ElectricPaladin on July 07, 2010, 01:33:14 PM
I also didn't know Qaf was a boy or a girl, and I definitely caught that it was meant to be ambiguous and not totally relevant to Lam's attraction. Excellent work, there! And while a lesbian relationship would have been interesting, I agree that the generational aspect of the story more than makes up for that lost opportunity.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Wilson Fowlie on July 07, 2010, 01:44:33 PM
I wonder if there'll ever be a day when a relationship is not made more (or less) interesting by the sexes of its members.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: ElectricPaladin on July 07, 2010, 01:47:32 PM
I wonder if there'll ever be a day when a relationship is not made more (or less) interesting by the sexes of its members.

I hope so.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Scattercat on July 07, 2010, 10:58:33 PM
Given that this is a world where women can get pregnant by eating almonds in the sunlight, it wouldn't even be too difficult to justify someone getting knocked up from a same-sex one night stand.  (Or maybe they BOTH get knocked up.  Twins from separate mothers!)  ;D


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: ElectricPaladin on July 08, 2010, 02:01:01 PM
(Or maybe they BOTH get knocked up.  Twins from separate mothers!)  ;D

I dare you to write that.

That's right, I dare you.

The gauntlet has been thrown down, b%@*h!


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: kibitzer on July 11, 2010, 03:24:55 AM
...figuring I'd have more space to flesh out different things about this world when I build it into a novel. >.>

Awesome! I'd so love to hear more of this world.

Also, welcome to the forum and gratz on your PodCastle Flash entries. I love it when authors visit the forums. Thanks for taking the time.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: kibitzer on July 11, 2010, 03:25:36 AM
I liked the parthenogenetic dancers...

Not sure where you got that from. Was that implied? Not when I listened.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Scattercat on July 11, 2010, 09:22:20 AM
I liked the parthenogenetic dancers...

Not sure where you got that from. Was that implied? Not when I listened.

Women become spontaneously pregnant with the Sun's daughters, and the Sun is herself described as feminine.  No mortal men or mystical men involved at all.  This isn't a science-y story, but when we see that sort of thing in nature (there's one lizard species that is well-known for it, iirc), it's called parthenogenesis.  I was indulging in a sort of reverse metaphor, describing a mystic/allegorical process by comparing it to a scientific fact.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: kibitzer on July 11, 2010, 10:55:51 PM
Yup, I know the word thanks, was wondering whether you came to that conclusion by implication or whether it was stated in the story. It definitely fits with the mythos but my recollection is that where the girls came from wasn't mentioned (well, apart from the dancers, obviously).

Although now I think about it, it would also fit with the other dancer's distaste at one of their number becoming pregnant.

Anyway, I'd have to listen again to be sure. No big deal.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Scattercat on July 11, 2010, 11:25:15 PM
It definitely fits with the mythos but my recollection is that where the girls came from wasn't mentioned (well, apart from the dancers, obviously).

There was a line about how various women would get an urge for almonds and go eat them while standing in the noon sun (so high that there were no shadows.)  Then they'd get pregnant and have a kid with a sun-letter on her forehead. 


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Unblinking on July 12, 2010, 11:50:48 AM
(And I heard the "I am still very strong" as a threat, but a joking threat, i.e. the young man is hardly going to leave now that he's found his long-lost birth mother and she's trying to keep up her tough-talking facade and not break down crying and being "weak" in front of her boy.  It seemed perfectly natural to me, given the type of person Lam is.)

Okay, I could buy it as a joke threat in that manner.  Fair enough.   :)


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Unblinking on July 12, 2010, 11:53:20 AM
Hi there, forumites! I'm so grateful for these comments -- thank you so much, all of you, for sharing your thoughts.

I kind of didn't want to chime in at all, since auctorial intent doesn't count for very much with me, and I love to see how people react to a story without any kind of establishing context -- that said, I really wanted to address this comment:

 
I was absolutely convinced that the moon boy (Uff?  Eff?) was a girl until we actually got to the moon temple.  I guess if I knew anything about Arabic, I'd not have had that confusion. 

I'm glad that Scattercat was convinced Qaf was a girl; it was important to me to keep the stranger's gender hidden because it was irrelevant to Lam's attraction, and I certainly didn't want people to assume the stranger was a man because of Lam's attraction. My anti-heteronormativity, let me show it to you! She would have reacted in precisely the same way had she revealed the stranger as a woman. In some ways I feel there was a missed opportunity here, in that I would have loved to foreground a romantic same-sex relationship (especially given the close quarters in which the sun women live, isolated from most anyone outside the temple), but I opted to go for the reversal of stereotypical gender roles instead, figuring I'd have more space to flesh out different things about this world when I build it into a novel. >.>

I'm glad you stopped by!  I always enjoy the author chiming in.  Authorial intent is certainly not the most important interpretation--once it's out in the wild there's no calling it back.  But it is interesting to know what the author intended, even if my view conflicts with it.

Also, I think it worked well as the role reversal rather than the same-sex attraction.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Fenrix on July 12, 2010, 07:18:25 PM
The story and reading was great. I downloaded this one and readied it for a road trip this past weekend based upon how much I enjoyed the author's flash entries. I'm going to have to search for the honey book that was pimped in the outro. Or the author could just pimp it here so we don't have to search >.>


I was kind of confused by the intro, though.  If I hadn't known what was coming, I think I would've been thrown by all the description of Cahokia, the ancient pre-Columbus American empire, prior to a story set in an ancient fantasy Arabic culture. 

I didn't want to talk about the stuff Dave mentioned in the outro, cause I thought that would be better after the story, and I was sort of free-associating "sun, sun...hmmm" and my brain landed on Cahokia.  They show a short film at the Interpretive Center (you can see it on the website, too (http://cahokiamounds.org/explore/video)) called "Cahokia: City of the Sun."  And I thought, "well, the connection is very, very tenuous, but more people should know about Cahokia."  So I went with it.

I'm a wanderer in from Pseudopod, so I'm used to Alasdair slamming me into a story within a minute and giving up a little philosophy in the outro. The style is different over here, so it could be I'm being resistant to change. I'll let you know once I'm sure. But I had some issues with the intro and outro.

First problem with the intro was not identifying where Cahokia was located. With as much time as was dedicated to the culture, I have no idea where it was located. I was trying to locate it in Texas or the Yucutan, when I think maybe it's somewhere near St Louis? Then my second and biggest problem was the intro set me up to expect a different location for the story. I was thinking mound people midwest with a pre-colonial explorer who was "just passing through". I was predisposed to a different culture, so it really jangled me when they were talking about food preparation that was clearly middle eastern. I got kicked out of the story for a good minute while I readjusted my bearing.

The outro portion discussing the Arabic language was good. But then the outro went for another five minutes or more. The reader feedback (which not having listened to either the story or been to the forums) felt like the whole thread was being summarized for me. Most of the editorial portions didn't really grab me, and I could try to define it a bit more concisely if that would be helpful.

I hope this has been constructive feedback, as I'm not trying to be the curmudgeon from the scary room walking over to kick down your sandcastles.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: DKT on July 12, 2010, 11:10:00 PM
As requested: The Honey Month (http://www.papaveria.com/the-honey-month/).  :)

As for the outro - yeah, sorry that was your first one! They don't usually run that long - although they do regularly feature feedback, and that episode, we were trying to do several different things. The next one should be at least a little bit shorter.

Anyway, glad you wandered in! Hope you'll stay for a while and check out some of the other stories from both the past and future :)


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Unblinking on July 13, 2010, 11:55:55 AM
Anyway, glad you wandered in! Hope you'll stay for a while and check out some of the other stories from both the past and future :)

Where do I sign up for stories from the future?  Silly me, I was waiting for them to be posted in the present.  :)


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: ellecee on July 15, 2010, 09:02:10 PM
I really loved this story overall. My only two complaints were that the beginning was a little overly descriptive and I found my mind wandering away in boredom. Also, at the end the mechanics of the one-sided monologue took me out of the story a bit and lessened the impact of the reveal of the long-lost son. That being said, I found it to be a moving, original story and even with the lessened impact, the end still made water come out of my face a little. I love the concept of the sun-girl and moon-boy finding love even if for only one night. I also appreciate the happy ending after being set up for an ambiguous one. I'm all for ambiguous endings, but its nice to get a happy ending once in a while.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Unblinking on July 16, 2010, 08:53:34 AM
the end still made water come out of my face a little.

You might want to get that checked out, it could be a sign of a major leak.  ;)


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Baine on July 16, 2010, 11:09:10 AM
I really liked this one I loved the beginning but the end was great I love that fact that he came to find his mother.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: eytanz on July 16, 2010, 09:33:45 PM
I really enjoyed the story. Interesting world, interesting plot, beautifully written. Very well read, too. I found nothing to dislike about it (except for the fact that Qaf was pronounced Uf - that threw me, since I know there's no letter Uf in Arabic, so I thought this was a made-up language).

Also, I was a bit surprised at the end, after the reveal, by how surprised Lam was at the identity of her son (I kind of suspected who it was the moment she said he was taken away and never seen again). I thought she would at least have had some suspicion, given that she took the time to tell the story and all - but I guess it's true she just liked to tell it to random strangers.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: ellecee on July 22, 2010, 08:51:01 PM
the end still made water come out of my face a little.

You might want to get that checked out, it could be a sign of a major leak.  ;)

I got a plumber in. Safely suppressed fixed.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Paranatural on July 27, 2010, 12:20:23 AM
I should have liked this story, but I didn't. I just listened today, and it made no real impression on me. I kinda liked the whole descriptive bell-mouthed sun-dancers and the moon-bound men idea, the story just never really Gelled with me. The girls sat around the roof of the temple all day...thinking about the sun. Eh, just seemed silly. There was basically no interaction between all these women who spent all day doing nothing but spending it in eachothers presence, and instead they seemed basically totally empty-headed, except for one girl who had the infinitesimally small amount of curiosity as to wonder what the sun last touched upon as it set. To me, it seems if all you are supposed to do for 14 years is think about the sun, this is about the least curious you can get without having some sort of brain injury, and the whole moral of the story was 'never wonder about anything or do anything unusual  or all of society will collapse'. As a geek, that's a bit of a rough idea to swallow, and one I reject fully, along with the rest of the story.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: LadyofFate on July 27, 2010, 09:30:41 PM
I found the intro and outro more interesting than the story itself. The story was so unengaging that I had a hard time paying attention for at least the first twenty minutes, but still got to the end without feeling like I'd missed anything crucial to understanding the story.  Didn't care much for the narrative style either.

I felt exactly the same way. The story bored me, the narrative within a narrative annoyed me, and the ending felt contrived and unemotional for me. I was also very creeped out with the idea of bells being attached with hooks through my lips, but that was a personal problem.


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: LaShawn on September 29, 2010, 11:34:27 AM
Add me to the ones who really liked the story, though I thought at the end that it was the husband who the woman was speaking to, not the sun. Didn't listen too well, I guess. I loved the mythology of women performing a dance to raise the sun, and that there were consequences of not doing so--in fact, I would've loved to hear a story set in the same time about the sun NOT rising (ie, the women being bound, or kidnapped, or something). I really loved the whole alphabet thing and having a moon counterpart that was worshipped by men. And of course, N.K's reading...sigh...


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Hambitron on September 29, 2010, 01:01:06 PM
the bells on the lips was one of my favorite details in this story.  although i dont currently sport any piercings i'm a big fan of those who do and i've been pierced in the past more for the experience and less for the aesthetic.  what really captured me about the bell piercings was that the women never spoke again after they were removed for they could not bear hearing their voice dull and unaccompanied by the mystical tinkling of the bells.

another aspect of the story that captured me was the relation of men tot he moon and women to the sun. due to a former love this resonated on a personal level.  maybe i'm off base but i've always felt that men have been associated with the sun and women the moon. the alphabetic meanings that go hand in hand with the sun and moon added yet another layer that made my brain whirl in a thousand directions and prompted a smile amidst the labor i was engaged. while the story may have been "slow" and albeit predictable in the end, i enjoyed it for its originality and the abstract connections that jumped out at me to my own life 


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: yicheng on November 01, 2010, 11:15:24 AM
Unfortunately this story didn't click with me at all.  I found the world building to be intriguing, but my problem was that none of the characters were at all relatable or sympathetic to me.  I just didn't really care what happened to them. 


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Wildfire on December 24, 2010, 06:08:46 PM
I realise I am coming to the discussion somewhat late, but I am fairly new to the podcast and am catching up with the older episodes.

This is definitely my favourite one so far, beautifully written, beautifully read and with a lovely ending that I hadn't predicted. I enjoyed it so much that it is the first one that encouraged me to come join the forum so I could say so.

Keep 'em coming.  :)


Title: Re: PC111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun
Post by: Talia on December 24, 2010, 09:24:06 PM
I realise I am coming to the discussion somewhat late, but I am fairly new to the podcast and am catching up with the older episodes.

This is definitely my favourite one so far, beautifully written, beautifully read and with a lovely ending that I hadn't predicted. I enjoyed it so much that it is the first one that encouraged me to come join the forum so I could say so.

Keep 'em coming.  :)

Awesome, and welcome! :)