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Author Topic: PodCastle Episode 1: "Come Lady Death" by Peter Beagle  (Read 34739 times)

Rachel Swirsky

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PodCastle Episode 1: "Come Lady Death"

By Peter Beagle.
Read by Paul S. Jenkins (of The Rev Up Review).
Introduction by Ann Leckie.
First appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, 1963.


But in time her own parties began to bore her, and though she invited the most famous people in the land and hired the greatest jugglers and acrobats and dancers and magicians to entertain them, still she found her parties duller and duller. Listening to court gossip, which she had always loved, made her yawn. The most marvelous music, the most exciting feats of magic put her to sleep. Watching a beautiful young couple dance by her made her feel sad, and she hated to feel sad.

And so, one summer afternoon she called her closest friends around her and said to them, “More and more I find that my parties entertain everyone but me. The secret of my long life is that nothing has ever been dull for me. For all my life, I have been interested in everything I saw and been anxious to see more. But I cannot stand to be bored, and I will not go to parties at which I expect to be bored, especially if they are my own. Therefore, to my next ball I shall invite the one guest I am sure no one, not even myself, could possibly find boring. My friends, the guest of honor at my next party shall be Death himself!”


Rated PG. Contains…well, Death.



Listen to this week's Pod Castle!


Edited by Heradel to add links/standardize formatting.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2008, 05:18:30 PM by Heradel »



jodymonster

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Reply #1 on: April 01, 2008, 04:55:51 AM
christmas came early!  11:55 and downloading now

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Heradel

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Reply #2 on: April 01, 2008, 05:13:04 AM
Well, it's either only about a 1/12th a Duke Nukem Forever late or a very elaborate and cruel joke.

Also, while not discounting American Indian Fantasy as a subgenre, the music kinda sets up a very different story than one set in old society London. I like it, and it may just be that since it's the first time it's really sticking out instead of fading into the background, but I was expecting something about Thunderbirds than the myriad aspects of Death and the petty cruelty/sociopathy of old aristocrats.

The story reminded me of Sandman in the middle (I realize it predates it), and Poe at the near-end and Sandman again towards the very end. If anyone wants the text, Scifi has it.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2008, 05:45:33 AM by Heradel »

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Russell Nash

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Reply #3 on: April 01, 2008, 09:32:08 AM
A winner first time out.  Congratulations.  I normally listen to podcasts once and delete them.  If there it was a really good story I may decide to keep it.  On average I save less then 10% of EP episodes.  This one is a keeper.



eytanz

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Reply #4 on: April 01, 2008, 10:35:00 AM
Wow, what a great start! I had high expectations from the Podcastle launch, and they were entirely met by this great story.

One production comment: the music in the intro and outro was too loud, and Ann too quiet; I found it hard to understand everything she said, especially once the singing came on in the background. I think the balance should be changed in future episodes.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2008, 10:47:16 AM by eytanz »



Listener

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Reply #5 on: April 01, 2008, 12:31:52 PM
I fully enjoyed the story, but then, this was apparently a classic, and if a good number of people don't like or appreciate it, it never reaches that status.

An excellent choice for reader.  When he communicated the snarky parts, he had a touch of the Izzard about him.  Enjoyable.

Ann's intro seemed to be a little too "I'm reading something I wrote beforehand; could you tell?"  I know that's kind of nitpicky, and this IS the first show, so I'm sure it'll get better.

Interested now in hearing more current fantasy, to see how much change the genre has undergone since my last foray into short fantasy (early 00s).

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dingosatemybaby

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Reply #6 on: April 01, 2008, 03:04:46 PM
This was excellent....totally worth the wait.

I'm definitely looking forward to more from you guys. 

Well done!

Michael


Talia

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Reply #7 on: April 01, 2008, 05:48:21 PM
Quite enjoyable. Looking forward to more. :)

For the interested, Mr. Beagle is a guest at I-Con in Stony Brook, Long Island this weekend.



Loz

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Reply #8 on: April 01, 2008, 07:26:35 PM
We're off to a great start. I'd be interested to know how the musical version works and whether it's vastly different, I can see it as being quite good in the Phantom/Les Mis/Lloyd-Webber mould but the introduction suggested it was aiming for something less populist.

But seeing as the Hostess was bored with her life, does this mean that becoming the new Death was supposed to be seen as a punishment? That's the sort of power you've got to hope comes with an instruction manual...



Ocicat

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Reply #9 on: April 01, 2008, 08:27:16 PM
Very nice, I quite enjoyed it.  Fantasy is indeed such a very large realm, I'm glad you started with something classic but not "swords and sorcery".  I mean, sure - I'd like to see some sword swinging at some point, but there's so much more to fantasy than elves and wizards in pointy hats.  Lets keep that stuff as the exception rather than the rule.  I do however require the occasional dragon.  Any chance of a new Squonk story?

Okay, Lady Death.  Excellent reading.  I loved all the speculation beforehand about what Death was really like - and the sense of how removed these people really were from death - and by implication, life.  I also loved the image of the military Captain being the only one willing to dance with death, while everyone else pretends not to be afraid.

I do wonder if Neil Gaiman took inspiration for his version of death from this story. Nothing wrong with that of course - artists build off each other.  And Neil did such wonderful things with his beautiful goth-girl death.  "You get what everyone gets.  You get a lifetime."




Talia

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Reply #10 on: April 01, 2008, 08:38:36 PM
I don't really see much comparison between this Death and Neil Gaiman's death, myself. This death even seems a little malicious; Gaiman's death is a more sympathetic figure, but still all business. She's one collected chick; and certainly doesn't seem like the type, unlike this death, to be seeking/needing acceptance from others.



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #11 on: April 01, 2008, 08:40:33 PM
"Any chance of a new Squonk story?"

Those will continue to be run in Escape Pod.

Our first dragon will bare its fangs next week.



Heradel

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Reply #12 on: April 01, 2008, 09:09:57 PM
I don't really see much comparison between this Death and Neil Gaiman's death, myself. This death even seems a little malicious; Gaiman's death is a more sympathetic figure, but still all business. She's one collected chick; and certainly doesn't seem like the type, unlike this death, to be seeking/needing acceptance from others.

Well, the one big difference is that Gaiman's Death is constant — Always a young woman, always on the stylish side, sometimes rebellious. I can't remember her changing depending on who she's seeing like this Death does. Gaiman's death changes with the times like Morpheus does, but not to the same extent, thus her not being reborn like Morpheus. I guess this one might, but we don't really see her enough, and it's also apparently more of a job than a birthright.

My favorite Death's still Pratchett's.

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hautdesert

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Reply #13 on: April 01, 2008, 09:23:14 PM
Here's a review of the opera--

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE7DB1039F937A25755C0A965958260

It premiered almost literally down the street from where I'm sitting.  I've never heard it, though, so I can't really tell you very much about it.



deflective

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Reply #14 on: April 02, 2008, 02:46:52 AM
congrats on the launch, good choice for the first story.



Sylvan

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Reply #15 on: April 02, 2008, 03:10:09 AM
An excellent story that captures the mores and feeling of a different time -a very real time- and mingles it with a fantasy tale about the nature of death!  How does it get any better than this?  Hard to say...  But I'm sure we'll see the folk at Pod Castle doing their best to succeed!




Leon Kensington

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Reply #16 on: April 02, 2008, 03:14:55 AM
Great episode.  I think I just found my favorite fantasy story as well as my favorite fantasy podcast.

I really like how Death was a position that was passed on, kind of like a Dead Like Me type of thing.  Really cool.  I also found it interesting how Mr. Beagle portrayed Death as a woman, something I have never heard/seen before.  A great twist on an old bit of legend.  What was the best for me though was that it made me want to write, something that very few stories are able to do for me.

Thanks PC crew and Mr. Beagle!



Heradel

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Reply #17 on: April 02, 2008, 03:22:43 AM
Great I really like how Death was a position that was passed on, kind of like a Dead Like Me type of thing.  Really cool.  I also found it interesting how Mr. Beagle portrayed Death as a woman, something I have never heard/seen before.  A great twist on an old bit of legend.  What was the best for me though was that it made me want to write, something that very few stories are able to do for me.

?
« Last Edit: April 02, 2008, 03:24:25 AM by Heradel »

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Planish

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Reply #18 on: April 02, 2008, 05:10:45 AM
Well. That was a wonderful story for a first (or any) episode. It was nice to hear Paul Jenkins reading again (having enjoyed The Plitone Revisionist).

What I liked was that nothing really fantastic actually happened. No sorcery (that can be proven from the evidence), no pointy ears, nobody turned into a newt. A beautiful young lady shows up unescorted to a party and charms everybody. If anything, her role is similar to a mundane celebrity that everybody is too shy to approach and treat as just another person.

Okay, she was able to remember everybody's name. That's a magic trick I have yet to master.

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bolddeceiver

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Reply #19 on: April 02, 2008, 05:56:42 AM
So great to hear this getting underway.  I have to admit, when I first heart that they were spinning off a fantasy podcast (oh so loooong ago) my expectations were mixed.  I must admit that while I consider myself a fan of speculative fiction in general, a lot of fantasy, and that which most readily and vocally embraces the name "fantasy," just rubs me the wrong way.  Before I start sounding like a total snob, I totally get that there is just as much that is formulaic and tired in science fiction as there is in fantasy.  But I guess I can stand a million pikers trying to be Heinlein or Azimov, because I like Heinlein and Azimov.  A million Tolkiens?  One was too many, in my book. 

EA has done a good job publicizing PC, and I was happy when I heard Eley describe the variety of styles PC is planning to address.  This first installment has me quite confident that this promise was a good one.  Not to say that there's no good sword-and-sorcery out there -- espescially if you count Earthsea as S+S -- but if I felt like this was going to be elves-dwarves-goblins-cast I would probably not subscribe.

I guess that's a long-winded, self-important way of saying YES great story choice, great reading, great production, excited to hear more.

On the nuts-and-bolts side, is this going to be a Tuesday thing going forward?  No complaints if it is; it'll be kinda nice to spread out my podcast week, turn my current "Wednesday-Drabblecast Thursday-Escape/Pseudo" into a three-day orgy of midweek fiction.

Ooh, include "Monday-Selected Shorts" in that equation, and it's four!



Kaa

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Reply #20 on: April 02, 2008, 08:36:00 PM
I just have to comment that after six months of waiting and finally seeing the story come up in the feed, I was very excited. And then, disaster struck! My stupid iPod Classic would. not. sync.  This happens sometimes.  No matter what I do, no matter what contortions I try, no matter how many times I disconnect, reboot, reconnect, beg, plead, threaten, and sacrifice virgins to the silicon gods of Apple, I cannot get it to sync.  And I had to leave for work!

I had to wait a whole day.

Torture! :)

Luckily (for my blood pressure), it sync'd instantly this morning and I'll get to listen to it on my commute home.  Yay!

If I were a suspicious person, I'd think maybe someone at iTunes was having a nice little April Fool's Joke on me. <shifty, narrow-eyed glances around the vicinity>

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Roney

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Reply #21 on: April 02, 2008, 09:50:51 PM
Great way to start the podcast.  I suppose it's easy to get a good first story if you've got such a long time to choose one. ;)

Excellent reading, too: I've been a bit lukewarm on some of Paul S Jenkins's readings for EscapePod, but I thought he did a fantastic job with this.

For a 45-year-old story it's aged very well.  A lot of that can be attributed to the "timeless" fairy-tale style, but there's a playfulness to it that feels very fresh.  Speaking of fairy tales, I expected things to go much worse for the aristos when Death asked them if they were all really, really sure that they wanted her to stay around: when fairy-tale characters ask that kind of loaded question, I run a mile.



Biscuit

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Reply #22 on: April 02, 2008, 10:21:54 PM
Great story, great start. Paul's delivery was delicious to listen - so dry, and there was a sexy bass drop in his voice right at the start that made me go "ohhh".


Kaa

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Reply #23 on: April 03, 2008, 03:58:52 AM
Wonderful way to end my day: listening to a good story on the way home from an annoying day at work.

And I hate to be the first one to bring this up, but bring it up I must!  I wonder which came first, this story or Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series? :)  Not that I'm saying either is derivative of the other. They're both fine stories with skin-deep similarities on the nature of Death as an office instead of an entity.

I also kept flashing back to Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death," and was sort of expecting things to take a turn into that sort of macabre.

Nice toe-wetting. I look forward to the plunge into the deep end. :)

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eytanz

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Reply #24 on: April 03, 2008, 08:34:46 AM
Wonderful way to end my day: listening to a good story on the way home from an annoying day at work.

And I hate to be the first one to bring this up, but bring it up I must!  I wonder which came first, this story or Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series? :) 

That's easy to answer. This story was first published in 1963. "On a pale horse" was first published in 1983.