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Author Topic: PC659: My Country is a Ghost  (Read 553 times)


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on: December 30, 2020, 07:48:30 AM
PodCastle 659: My Country is a Ghost

Author: Eugenia Triantafyllou
Narrator: Alethea Kontis
Host: Setsu Uzume
Audio Producer: Peter Behravesh

Originally published in Uncanny Magazine.


Show Notes
Rated PG-13.

When Niovi tried to smuggle her mother’s ghost into the new country, she found herself being passed from one security officer to another, detailing her mother’s place and date of death over and over again.

“Are you carrying a ghost with you, ma’am?” asked the woman in the security vest. Her nametag read Stella. Her lips were pressed in a tight line as she pointed at the ghost during the screening, tucked inside a necklace. She took away Niovi’s necklace and left only her phone.

“If she didn’t die here, I am afraid she cannot follow you,” the woman said. Her voice was even, a sign she had done this many times before. Niovi resented the woman at that moment. She still had a ghost waiting for her to come home, comforting her when she felt sad, giving advice when needed. But she was still taking Niovi’s ghost away.

Stella paused. She gave Niovi a moment to think, to decide. She could turn around and go back to her home taking the necklace with her. Back to her unemployment benefits and a future she could no longer bring herself to imagine, or she could move down the long stretch of aisles, past the dimming lights and into the night, alone, her mother’s ghost left behind—where do ghosts return to in times like this? Niovi would be a new person in a new country, wiped clean of her past.

Foreign ghosts were considered unnecessary. The only things they had to offer were stories and memories.

Niovi had prepared herself for this, and yet she had hoped she wouldn’t have to leave her mother behind.

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Álex Souza

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Reply #1 on: January 05, 2021, 04:21:21 AM
This is my first comment on a story.

I didn't know what was the MC's objective from the beginning, and that's something I look for in a story. I saw her entering a foreign country, so maybe a refugee, but she didn't have a clear want. She has a lot of need, but the want is missing. And I longed for that because then I could root for (or root against) her.

That said, this MC is very reactive. The fact that she barely speaks adds to that. She doesn't even argue and lets herself be ordered around. That gives an impression to the reader (most of the time unconsciously, if he's not analyzing it like we are) that the MC is weak and doesn't fight for her objectives. That would be OK if she changed throughout, which doesn't happen. We just see a glimpse of hope at the very end.

She's socially awkward and the others try to help, but she refuses. It's over-the-top even. I listened to the story: the narrator would speak in a very low voice when playing the MC. I know what means to be an outsider, for I have experienced it myself. But here, it just felt off. And I think that happens because we don't have a proper setup: why is she SO disturbed? It seemed forced. After giving some thought, came to my mind that maybe the protagonist IS the author, hence her behavior. But I don't know her personally so I'd like to have been told more about the character.

At the beginning, she lets go of her mother's ghost so easily that it's almost laughable. And I don't think that was the writer's intention at all.

The magic and worldbuilding is... fine. There's nothing wrong with it; as there's nothing special about it. It's just soft magic, and soft magic is commonly used as a metaphor for something; and in that it delivers.

I like the overall message: we need to keep the tradition of our ancestors lest our history doesn't die, especially if we're migrants. At least, that's my take.

I mentioned the protagonist being Greek, as is the author. It's always nice to see the author putting his own background in a story that will be widely read by an international audience. I'm always rejoiced when I see that. In the November 2020 issue of Clarkesworld (I can refer to other magazines here, right?), there's a story, Death is for those who die, by a Brazilian writer; we can see that she pretty much just described her days with her family (disguised as a story of course) and still got published and paid.

I can't wait for when my time comes to do that.

Álex Souza
« Last Edit: January 05, 2021, 12:22:26 PM by alexvss »

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