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Author Topic: PC489: Emshalur’s Hand Stays  (Read 1156 times)
Castle Watchcat
Posts: 2868

Anything for a Weird Life

« on: September 26, 2017, 03:07:30 PM »

PodCastle 489: Emshalur’s Hand Stays

by Anaea Lay
read by Cian Mac Mahon
hosted by Setsu Uzume

A PodCastle Original!

Rated PG-13

I returned to Irishem with three sources of power: a letter from Kelian, a clear memory of why I left, and the space between my hands. The letter proved my right to enter as a citizen at the outer gate. It also got me past the boy keeping Kelian’s door when I arrived, though the house was closed for the evening. “Sealed save for family and Emshalur,” go the ritual words of denial.

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Anaea Lay lives in Seattle, Washington where she writers, cooks, plays board games, reads too much, and sells real estate under another name. She’s the fiction podcast editor for Strange Horizons where you can hear her read a new short story nearly every week. Her fiction work has appeared in a variety of venues including Lightspeed, Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and PodCastle.

Cian is an Irish software engineer, photographer, blogger, and sometimes-traveller.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
Jethro's belt
Posts: 53

« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2017, 08:37:55 PM »

I never did catch on to what was happening with any confidence. I think I could take a stab at the physical outcome but don't know why.
Posts: 39

« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2017, 07:44:09 PM »

I had to read the story before commenting.  I was excited that the story had an Irish narrator... and then terribly disappointed at the near monotone of the delivery.  It made the story a bit hard to follow.  Couldn't always tell when one character gave way to another in the dialogue.  Couldn't always tell if the main character was talking out loud or narrating to us internally (which is why I had to read it).  Then he goes from talking about himself in the first person to talking about himself in the third person... or I was more lost than I think and he was actually talking about someone else.   I think I'd like to hear the story with a different narrator to see if that helps.

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." A.Einstein
Posts: 48

« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2017, 01:37:34 PM »

I enjoyed the language of the story, but I was unsatisfied by its content. I never did understand what was happening.

Who or what is the narrator? Is he a god (apparently a reluctant god, or one with limited powers)? Why can't he control the hands that hang over the city? Are the speaker and the hands both aspects of a more powerful entity?

What does the god take from the sacrifices? Does the speaker have any control over the outcome? What are the priests really up to?

So many questions, not enough answers. The world-building was frustratingly incomplete.
Posts: 212

« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2017, 02:33:09 PM »

with the timeskips and dreamy tone I had a hard time figuring out what was happening... but I did feel the bittersweet tragedy of having ultimate power and having to choose whether to save one’s family or everyone else. Hope someone can explain the ending, but I think he refused to take his nephew’s years and thus doomed the city?

"To understand a cat you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality."
Posts: 202

« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2018, 01:19:23 PM »

I had thought the story was pretty clear until I read these comments.
Who or what is the narrator? Is he a god (apparently a reluctant god, or one with limited powers)? Why can't he control the hands that hang over the city? Are the speaker and the hands both aspects of a more powerful entity?
I think yes. I interpreted the main character as a manifestation of the god Emshalur. He fell in love with the people of Irishem for their passion when they burned their failed city and he became their patron. The people gradually lost their passion and it was replaced by fear and authoritarian practices. When the government made sacrifices mandatory for citizenship, they took all of the worth out of them. They weren't sacrifices freely given, they were taxes. They didn't understand that what Emshalur needed and wanted from them was a proud and zealous joy of life. That system had taken the love and passion from Kelian, his favorite mortal, and he could not support the city any longer. His favorites were marked to exempt them from sacrificing to him, but they were punished for it by the other people.
What was frustrating for me was that Emshalur couldn't/wouldn't communicate to the people of his city what he really needed from them.
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