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Author Topic: Pseudopod 74: Tumble  (Read 9558 times)

Bdoomed

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on: January 25, 2008, 08:51:26 PM
Pseudopod 74: Tumble

By Trent Jamieson

Read by Cheynne Wright

“My Daniel’s out there.” Mother Beet crossed her stick-thin legs, lit a cigarillo, then offered me one. I shook my head, staring into the black hollows where her eyes should be. Black hollows that held my measure, nonetheless, and stared back. Tiny brown cockroaches nested in the right orbit. They bubbled and hissed, irritated by the smoke perhaps. “I can feel him, sure’s the memory of spittin’ the bastard, bloody and blind-eyed, out of me womb.”

I sat, and her smoke-bound mutterings washed against me. Folk like that, their words are weighty. You listen and not without fear.



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


eytanz

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Reply #1 on: January 25, 2008, 11:09:56 PM
First, let me start with the best part - the reading. I thought it was really great. Not perfect; some parts were a bit hard to understand. But overall it was a really great voice and really well suited for the story.

As for the story - it was a solid story, but I found it a bit unsatisfying for the simple reason that the setting was more interesting than the story itself. It sort of felt like we were looking at a part of the world that lies in the periphery of the really interesting part.



Thaurismunths

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Reply #2 on: January 27, 2008, 07:47:59 PM
OMN! (Oh my N-sh!) What a great story!
The reading was beyond good. The story and the reader were so well paired that it's ridiculous. The story and the reader were so well paired that it's ridiculous.
Thank you for bringing us this story.

Quote from: eytanz
it was a solid story, but I found it a bit unsatisfying for the simple reason that the setting was more interesting than the story itself.
Interesting point, but I'm not sure I follow.
The world was very interesting, but so was the character, and the action, and the ending. I thought it was quite well balanced in that respect. The whole story might have been a little too interesting, as in I get what you mean about it being a peripheral one to this but it's so fringe that I just can't figure it all out. And I want to.
I'm going look for more by the author in hopes of finding other stories about this world. Maybe we'll get another PseudoPod from him?

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eytanz

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Reply #3 on: January 27, 2008, 08:37:13 PM
OMN! (Oh my N-sh!) What a great story!
The reading was beyond good. The story and the reader were so well paired that it's ridiculous. The story and the reader were so well paired that it's ridiculous.
Thank you for bringing us this story.

Quote from: eytanz
it was a solid story, but I found it a bit unsatisfying for the simple reason that the setting was more interesting than the story itself.
Interesting point, but I'm not sure I follow.


I just meant that I spent most of the story being more interested in the tangents he went off onto about the world, his past, and characters in it than in the actual plot. I would have loved this story if it were part of an anthology of stories set in the same world. As a stand alone, it felt like it promised a bit more than it delivered.

That said, I don't want to give the impression I didn't really like it. I did. It just didn't leave me satisfied.
The world was very interesting, but so was the character, and the action, and the ending. I thought it was quite well balanced in that respect. The whole story might have been a little too interesting, as in I get what you mean about it being a peripheral one to this but it's so fringe that I just can't figure it all out. And I want to.
I'm going look for more by the author in hopes of finding other stories about this world. Maybe we'll get another PseudoPod from him?

[/quote]



Kevin David Anderson

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Reply #4 on: January 27, 2008, 08:59:42 PM
I enjoyed Mr. Wright's reading a great deal.  It kept me listening.  One of the best voices on the pod so far.  Are there any others read by Mr. Wright and or planned for in the future? 


Yossarian's grandson

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Reply #5 on: January 28, 2008, 05:39:20 PM
I agree that this was a very, very good reading. But I couldn't make heads or tails of the story. The backdrop was really promising, but the story was just too....dense. I appreciate Mr. Jamieson was giving us a glimpse of a much larger stage. Which can be a good thing. But this just left too many questions unanswered.

That being said, I listened to this episode on my iPod at night, during a solo walk through the woods. I looked over my shoulder a lot, I can tell you... ;)



gelee

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Reply #6 on: January 28, 2008, 06:14:04 PM
Utterly excellent story, my favorite PP so far.  The reading was top-shelf.
Yes, it was complicated.  I think it would be easier to follow in print, but that didn't bother me much.  I actually enjoyed it more on the second listen, and I rarely listen to anything twice.  More please!



Bdoomed

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Reply #7 on: January 30, 2008, 12:42:05 AM
:o excellent!
the reading was top notch, especially the choking scene near the end.
the story confused me at parts, but after listening to it a few more times, i fully understand it, and i looove it!  i find the descriptive language to be incredibly poetic and... beautifully ugly, if you know what i mean.
the ending was amazing, though i would like to hear more about how/why the city holds people so easily, how addictions start, etc.  i would definately like to see more of this world, and i would also love to hear this reader again!

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Rigger

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Reply #8 on: January 30, 2008, 11:40:17 PM
I have to agree with eytanz here.

The setting and characters were more interesting than the story it's self.



wakela

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Reply #9 on: January 31, 2008, 02:35:10 AM
funny, I found the reading to be distracting.  I think he has a great voice and is very talented, and he sort of acted the story rather that just read it.  But it sounding like he was trying a little too hard, and the different voices and accents (Texan for small town cop, New England for chatty barkeep) made some words harder to understand than necessary.  Maybe it was the recording quality.

That's kind of a minor quibble though.  Overall, I thought both the reading and the story were fantastic.  This is up there with Flat Dianne, and one of the best PPs I've heard. 

Yes, the character and setting were more interesting than the plot, but I don't think the plot was trying to be very interesting.  The setting and characters were, and they really hit the mark. 



Anarkey

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Reply #10 on: January 31, 2008, 06:41:48 PM
I just meant that I spent most of the story being more interested in the tangents he went off onto about the world, his past, and characters in it than in the actual plot. I would have loved this story if it were part of an anthology of stories set in the same world. As a stand alone, it felt like it promised a bit more than it delivered.

I call this a Miéville issue, and I did have it with this story, where I was way more interested in the set dressing than the author was, and was only going to be shown brief glimpses of the bits I want to see on the way to a plot that I'm barely following because meh.

Though I, too, am not trying to give the impression I hated the story.  I didn't like it as much as last week's, but it didn't make me want to cry either, so we're at a neutral place afaic and I'm not likely to unsubscribe from the feed yet.

The reading, otoh, rocked my world (and takes me above the neutral place into 'this is good' territory).  It just so happens that I listened to "We are Very Lively Here" just in the past week and "Stockholm Syndrome" fairly recently as well and I got to say, Cheyenne has an incredible voice for reading horror.  Also, he's a GREAT reader, injecting just enough drama without going over the top.  A man not afraid of judicious pauses.  Those first person narrations work beautifully when he does them, and he makes the authors sound better than they otherwise would.  More Cheyenne, please!  (this can also be considered a request for more post-apocalyptic zombie stuff, as I dig that too, and he mostly seems to read that).

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DKT

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Reply #11 on: January 31, 2008, 06:46:12 PM
Fantastic story and a fantastic reading by Cheyenne Wright.  The author's descriptions creeped me the hell out and the tumbling cataracts thing was really well played.  These are the kind of stories I love Pseudopod for, bizarre pockets of our world (or other ones) with vivid description, strong narrations, and a pace that leaves my heartbeat thumping.  I thought the rhythms that Wright hit while reading this story were incredible. 

EDIT: Was going to point out Stockholm Syndrome and We Are All Very Lively, too, but Anarkey beat me to it.  I liked those pretty well too, but this reading (IMO) was his best thus far.


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Reply #12 on: February 02, 2008, 11:30:17 PM
I also thought this was a great read- the old woman voice was scary as hell.



Alan

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Reply #13 on: February 03, 2008, 04:31:19 AM
I agree with most in this thread, Anarkey in particular: this story had a great environment and rich, lush prose, read very powerfully by Cheyenne Wright (who ought to be a voice actor with AFTRA if he isn't already). I especially enjoyed Cheyenne's careful timing and lurid witch's voice, and the imagery of citizenship as addiction ("salve to my wounds and whiplashes across my back," wow). But, by the time I got to the end of the story, I still wasn't sure what it was about: was the protagonist sent to hell for something other than being generally hard-boiled?  Thematically I felt like I missed something.

I most liked the general environment the story built, and the sharp drawing of the characters. Like Miéville's work, this delivered more than enough in style to make up for any quibbles I have with substance.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2008, 06:23:27 AM by Alan »



robertmarkbram

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Reply #14 on: February 05, 2008, 06:58:32 AM
I remember Stephen Eley's remark in one of the Escape Pod eps: when you choose a setting close to our world, you can spend more time on *not* explaining the world; on the opposite end of the scale you get to introduce lots of fantastic wonderful detail but need to balance how much time you spend explaining it vs telling the story.

This story is one of those that just says "balance, what balance?" I loved the story, characterisations, the world (Melbourne - that's my city!) and Cheynne Wright's reading.. oh the reading!

I just wish I knew what the hell was going on!


Loz

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Reply #15 on: February 08, 2008, 12:58:45 PM
I'm in two minds about the reading, it sounded a bit as though he were trying to put on a voice to read a story, still, I'm often wrong and that may be the voice he uses when ordering a pizza.

Couldn't make head nor tails of the story though. It lost me somewhere halfway through.



DDog

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Reply #16 on: February 12, 2008, 04:22:10 PM
Didn't get it, didn't care--it was still awesome. The only quibble I have with the reading is that sometimes the voice for the narrator would change like the reader came back to the mic after a break and couldn't remember which voice he was using before.

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Reply #17 on: February 13, 2008, 05:37:13 PM
The reader was talented.  The story was confusing to me.  So, overall, not my favorite.  I just couldn't keep up.

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alllie

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Reply #18 on: February 15, 2008, 09:13:46 PM
I can't say I understood it the first time but I liked the imagery so much that I listened to it three times just for the words and finally understood it. It was well read which made the words even better but it was the words themselves that I liked, the imagery, the alliteration, almost like a song.

Quote
"her skin knitted together with spider webs and nicotine stains"..."those cities were old, cockroach-cloaked and fog-decked rotten"..."blasted bloody and blind-eyed out of my womb"..."running only prompted hunters to speed"..."sunset pulled my shadow thin and long before me"..."croissants hot and jam-bloodied"

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Chodon

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Reply #19 on: March 19, 2008, 01:53:48 PM
The reading was awesome.  The imagery was awesome.  I had no clue what was going on or why.  For that reason the story fell flat for me.

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CammoBlammo

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Reply #20 on: March 28, 2008, 08:10:42 AM
The reading was awesome.  The imagery was awesome.  I had no clue what was going on or why.  For that reason the story fell flat for me.

I'm glad I'm not the only one. I've tried to listen to the story twice now, and each time I get to about the ten minute mark and realise I don't have a clue what's actually been happening. Yet I haven['t not enjoyed the experience.

I'm glad robertmarkbram pointed out it's set in Melbourne. I live near there, so I might have to have another listen. If I can identify with the place I might be able to get through.

Does that qualify me as an addict?



JoeFitz

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Reply #21 on: April 05, 2008, 07:57:48 PM
I really liked this piece and the reading was simply amazing.

Thanks!



Planish

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Reply #22 on: April 20, 2009, 03:26:28 AM
Put me down in the "Loved the reading" category.

I couldn't make it past 5 minutes into the story (if there was one). A few days later I tried again from the first and got as far as 10 minutes in, then gave up again. I think that's the first time I've done that for any Escape Pod/Pseudopod/Podcastle story.

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RedArrow

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Reply #23 on: September 16, 2009, 12:37:29 PM
I had a hard time with this one.  The reading was a little over the top for my taste.  As for the story, this was my least favorite of everything I've listened to on PP thus far.  There was some great imagery, and the whole thing about the addiction to cities was interesting.  As a whole though, this wasn't my cup of tea.   :-\



Unblinking

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Reply #24 on: October 12, 2009, 04:50:20 PM
The reading on this one was superb!  Except that I did have some trouble understanding Ma Beat (or whatever her name was).

I liked a lot of the concepts, particularly the city's addictive presence.

But the story itself--I wish the author had put some effort into making the setting and events make sense. 

In particular, I was never sure what tech/magic level was available in the story.  I'd kinda settled on a steampunk type setting, and then suddenly a car shows up, then CD's, then a gun.  Each time I had to stop and re-evaluate the setting.  The gun in particular was badly used.  I didn't know he had a gun, nor was I aware that guns were present in this world at all.  So when one suddenly is pulled out and proves the deciding factor in the final battle, it feels sort of like a Bugs Bunny pulling a refrigerator out of his pocket moment.

It left too many open questions.  and not the good kind that cause me to think about the story for months to come, but the other kind that make me feel like information has been withheld just to drive me nuts.
-Why did the city want him to hunt down these seemingly random people?
-What was so scary about this enemy?
-Why did he end up in Hell?

For me these absences didn't make it more mysterious, but made it hard to get close to the point of view if the speaker never bothers to tell me what he's doing and why.



Millenium_King

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Reply #25 on: July 29, 2010, 10:08:12 PM
I got into this story more and more as it went along, but I think it got muddled in more than a few places and, in others, it lapsed into purple language so that meaning became needlessly obfuscated.

First, this story I think displays the "horse before the cart" (not a typo) syndrome displayed by other fantasy stories ("The Exhibition" is a good example - so is "Bones of the Earth" by Le Guin for a non PP example).  What I mean by that is: the story gets caught up in its world, in its little nuances, in being immersive... and totally forgets about its plot.  The plot to this story was very, very simple - but almost impossible to discern.  A little more directness would have helped (for example, I didn't realize he'd killed Mother Beet until almost the end).  Secondly, the character's motivations are completely omitted - making his actions seem confusing.  Fantasy stories like this need to jump on a strong plot as swiftly as possible to keep the reader grounded - otherwise we just get vague conversation, followed by vague description that just leaves us scratching our heads and wondering what the heck is going on?!  In my opinion, anyway.

Secondly, this story indulges in some language that not only is pointless, but also is a hindrance to meaning.  For example: "Washed with bile on my lost hope."  It might sound impressive and poetic, but ultimately does not do anything.  It doesn't make an image, it doesn't contribute to the narrative - heck, it doesn't even help establish a voice.  I am not a fan of such language, I feel like it's immature.  The sort of thing scribbled in a junior-high notebook.

Thirdly, for all its lapses into nuance, the story never concretely establishes the rules it's playing by.  Why the head comes alive, why the narrator dies, why he goes to Hell etc. etc.  All of that comes out of the blue.  It would have been better, probably, to just have the narrator get killed rather than lapsing into a another branch of fictional mythology that further confuses the reader (listener).  Likewise the narrator's conversation with the little devil seemed superfluous - what was the point of that again?

Overall, this story did a decent enough job building a world - but failed to rope it tightly together with a coherent plot.  In a novel, this can work - and even be effective.  But a short does not have the luxury of lengthy worldbuilding and slow immersion (ie. it should "put the cart before the horse" see?).

Finally, having the narrator confront Daniel in a bar was positively groan-worthy.  Seems like every, single fantasy story ever written has to have a bar, inn or tavern in it where - for some inexplicable reason - everyone meets.

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